It is common to have post-traumatic symptoms after witnessing or even being aware of terrible tragedies like the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Huffington Post reports that after any tragedy of such magnitude, counselors immediately have their hands full with the following:
- On an ASAP basis, helping people feel safe
- In the longer-term process of helping them cope, and get along with life
The good part, while most people eventually heal, about 8% to 15% are likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a mental health disorder that can affect children, adolescents and even adults who have survived a traumatic experience or series of traumatic events.
Symptoms of PTSD in children include:
- Re-experiencing the trauma
- Increased agitation
How does a child re-experience the trauma? For example, the child suddenly only wants to play shooting games, or he/she may even carry a toy gun to school after seeing a school shooting. Thus as we can see, the shooting has been internalized in the child’s psyche.
Dr. Melissa Brymer, director of terrorism and disaster programs with the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, said,
Anxiety, stress, sleeplessness and even guilt following a traumatic event is normal and even expected. She added that rumors about the incident can exacerbate the situation. Not everyone who has been through a school shooting will get PTSD. It’s the kids who were directly exposed who are more at risk.
Mental health screenings are a must post a traumatic event like the mass shootings at Sandy Hook School at Connecticut, Newton. These screening will not only identify those suffering from PTSD, but will also help to identify proper treatment plans to help them cope in the days to come.
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