Mental Health America Mourns Victims of Newtown, Connecticut, Shootings
Offers Guidelines to Help in Responding to Impact of Event;
Calls for Action to Prevent Such Episodes in Future
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement of Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (December 14, 2012)- Mental Health America joins Americans in mourning the loss of those killed in the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and hope for the full recovery of those who were injured and everyone who is affected by this horrific event.
At this point, we do not know the motivation behind this tragic and senseless act.
We do know that events like this will impact families, the 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.
The National Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week national service that offers phone- and text-based crisis counseling and support to people in distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, to help them move forward on the path of recovery. You may reach the Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting "TalkWithUs" or ("Hablanos" for Spanish-speaking) to 66746. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling center in the nationwide network of centers. The Helpline staff will provide confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. The Helpline complements the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other disaster response capacities, and is available immediately anywhere within the United States. This service is provided under contract with SAMHSA by Mental Health America's New York City affiliate.
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:
• Talk honestly about the incident, without graphic detail, and share some of your own feelings about it.
• Encourage young people 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.
• 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.)
Unfortunately, tragedies like these are happening far too often in our society. Gun violence is taking too many lives. Mourning and expression of sympathies cannot be our only response. It is time to recognize that guns and gun violence are major public health problems and we need to desperately enact sound public policy that seriously addresses gun control and limits the number of available firearms in this country.
But, such public policy is an incomplete solution at best. We have enough research evidence about the social determinants behind such violence, and yet we fail to apply what we know on a scale sufficient to truly make a difference. Let us all come together to create and sustain safe and nurturing school environments and communities. We know how; all we need is the will.
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 240 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.