NIMH Offers Suggestions for Dealing with Emotional Impact of Virginia Tech Shootings
An NIMH spokesperson says it's important for people to acknowledge that they have been affected by tragic events like this in order to help them deal with the emotional impact.
Schmalfeldt: In the aftermath of such shocking and tragic events as the recent shootings at Virginia Tech, it's only natural for people to suffer some residual emotional effects. Dr. Farris Tuma, chief of the National Institute of Mental Health's Traumatic Stress Research Program said it's important for people to acknowledge that they have been affected by tragic events like this in order to help them deal with the emotional impact.
Tuma: An event like this clearly has many ripple effects to the local community, to people who have known the young man who was involved, his family, those who knew the other victims as well as other people who were not directly impacted. We know from experience that all of these groups of people — there are consequence for them. And parents should surely be prepared to address their own feelings about what has happened, in addition to staying closely tuned in to their children's emotions and behaviors.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Tuma said that events like the Virginia Tech massacre can also have a lingering effect on children and cause them to worry about their own safety. He suggested some ways for parents to deal with their children's fears.
Tuma: In general, and it sort of depends on the age of the child, it's probably a good idea for parents to be prepared to explain what has happened as best they are able, to encourage their children to express their feelings and to listen to them without sort of passing judgement and telling them that they're right or wrong about the way they feel. Children need to be reassured that it's OK to be upset after something bad happens. And generally things that parents can do, like maintaining home routines, are pretty reassuring to children - you know, like things are going on as they were before, even though something horrible has happened.
Schmalfeldt : Dr. Tuma said it's important for parents to deal with their own emotions after such a tragic event as well.
Tuma: We know pretty well now that children take a lot of their cues from how their parents are doing. If a parent is feeling distressed and sort of sitting on that and stewing in it is probably not going to be a good thing in the long run to help their children.
Schmalfeldt: You can find more information about post-traumatic stress online at www.nimh.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Farris Tuma
Topic: Mental Health