A Week of Traumas: Helping Others Cope

This has been a week to remember, and many of the memories will be sad ones. The 2013 Boston Marathon, held Monday, will be remembered for the two bomb blasts near the finish line. Three people died and nearly 200 were injured. On Wednesday evening, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, devastated the town of 1,800. Unconfirmed reports indicate 5-15 fatalities with approximately 200 injuries and some people still missing.

Children have been directly affected in both incidents, while thousands of others are being indirectly affected through exposure to news stories on television, radio, and the Internet.  The effects of disaster on children who are directly exposed to danger and trauma are different from the effects on children who witnessed but did not directly experience traumatic events. Differences in age, experience, maturity level, and personality lead to varying reactions to the same incident.

Several resources are available to help you help your children cope with violence and disasters. Here are two: the National Institute of Mental Health offers guidance for parents, and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on common responses to traumatic events.   Also review EDEN’s Children and Disasters page for other resources.

 You can also find on the EDEN website mental health resources for Extension educators and other professionals who don’t normally talk about stress and behavioral health.

How are you helping others cope with the traumatic events of this week?