ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Statement of David Shern, Ph.D., President and CEO of Mental Health America:
Mental Health America joins Americans in mourning the loss of those killed in the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and everyone who is affected by this horrific event and express our hope for the full recovery of those who were injured.
At this point, we do not know the motivation behind this senseless act.
We do know that events like this will impact families, the Denver community and the nation. Many may feel at risk and may experience feelings of anxiety and fear. Parents may be groping with how to discuss these and similar events with their children.
Mental Health America has developed guidelines to help Americans respond and cope with tragic events, which can be found at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster.
To guide discussions about the shooting, Mental Health America offers the following suggestions for parents as they communicate with young people in the area and across the nation:
- Children sense the anxiety and tension in adults around them. And, like adults, children experience the same feelings of helplessness and lack of control that tragedy-related stress can bring about. Unlike adults, however, children have little experience to help them place their current situation into perspective.
- Each child responds differently to tragedy, depending on his or her understanding and maturity, but it's easy to see how an event like this can create a great deal of anxiety in children of all ages because they will interpret the tragedy as a personal danger to themselves and those they care about.
- Whatever the child's age or relationship to the damage caused by tragedy, it's important that you be open about the consequences for your family, and that you encourage him or her to talk about it.
Mental Health America has prepared a fact sheet to help children cope with tragedy, which can be viewed at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster/helping-children-handle-disaster-related-anxiety.
If you are worried about a young person's reaction or have ongoing concerns about his/her behavior or emotions, contact a mental health professional at their school or at your community mental health center. Your local Mental Health America Affiliate can direct you to resources in your community.
Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net) is the nation's largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.
SOURCE Mental Health America