Statement of David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America:
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the Chardon, Ohio, shootings. It is still too early to know yet why this individual took a firearm to a school and shot students.
"We do know that events like this will impact students and families in Chardon and the nation. Many students 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.
To guide discussions about the shooting, Mental Health America offers the following suggestions for teachers and parents as they communicate with young people in the area and across the nation:
- Talk honestly about the incident, without graphic detail, and share some of your own feelings about it. It is important that students feel informed.
- Encourage students to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings, and validate the young person's feelings and concerns.
- Limit television viewing. It can be difficult to process the images and messages in news reports.
- Empower young people to take action about their own school safety. Encourage them to share their concerns about school safety with university officials.
- Recognize what may be behind a young person's behavior. They may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn or allow their school performance to decline.
- Keep the dialogue going even after media coverage subsides. Continue to talk about feelings and discuss actions being taken to make schools and communities safer.
- Seek help when necessary. 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's website has a number of additional resources on its website to help provide support and perspective to those directly affected by the tragedy and the nation as a whole (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster.)
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