Mental Health Resources for Coping with Traumatic Events
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers tips and other mental health resources on how to minimize possible mental and emotional effects of trauma caused by a disaster.
Traumas and disasters can have tremendous psychological impacts on those who are affected directly and indirectly. Most people will do well after a traumatic event; some may emerge even stronger. Individuals who are affected may have various stress reactions that present psychological, as well as physical, symptoms.
However, there are steps that individuals can take for themselves and their families to lessen the psychosomatic impacts felt by the community at large and those involved in the event.
After an event has passed, the APA recommends following these steps to begin coping with the possible devastation and stress that follows:
- Keep informed about new information and developments, but avoid overexposure to news rebroadcasts of the events. Be sure to use credible information sources to avoid speculation and rumors.
- Learn what local resources are available to aid those affected by the tragedy and be prepared to share this information.
- If you feel upset, you are not alone. Common reactions to trauma include anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleeping, isolating yourself from others and increased use of alcohol and tobacco to manage your emotions. Talking with friends, family or colleagues who likely are experiencing the same feelings may help.
- If you have contact with children, keep open dialogues with them regarding their fears of danger and the traumatic event. Let them know that in time, the tragedy will pass. Don’t minimize the danger, but talk about your ability to cope with tragedy and get through the ordeal.
- Feelings of anxiety and depression following a traumatic event are natural. You may want to seek psychiatric care if:
- you are having increasing problems at home or work
- you are using more alcohol
- your symptoms don’t get better after a few days (or are getting worse)
- you just don’t feel right
- a loved one or colleague comments that you don’t seem like yourself
Your primary care provider or Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) can help connect you with mental health services.
For more information on coping with mental illnesses, visit the APA’s patient / public education website: www.psychiatry.org/mental-health
Information on coping after a disaster or tragedy is available at http://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/coping-after-disaster-trauma
The APA Blog includes several posts about Coping After Tragedy and Talking to Children About Disasters.
English - https://vimeo.com/306501195/6748a91354
Arabic - https://vimeo.com/306501043/2aa5ab46af
Spanish - https://vimeo.com/306502562/4f5bb5361f
French - https://vimeo.com/306502434/f4d49f21b0
Swahili - https://vimeo.com/306502706/9453958bf6
Kinyarwanda - https://vimeo.com/306506774/a2bc2ac983
Burmese - https://vimeo.com/306506474/5eb49781d7
This is an educational video on the critical issue of promoting refugees’ mental health. Refugee children and families are at high risk for mental illness. This video highlights the story of a loving family escaping war. The video explain the challenges and trauma of being a refugee. It breaks down the walls of stigma surrounding seeking treatment and provides the viewer with resources. I developed this video as the Project Leader of the 2018 AACAP Advocacy and Collaboration grant awarded to St Louis ROCAP. Please feel free to share it with the refugees and those who work with them. I hope it will provide support for our refuges and for their families.
-Balkozar Adam, M.D.