Mental Health America Offers Tips for Coping with Shootings at VA Polytechnic Institute and State University
Contact: Heather Cobb, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 16, 2007) - "The Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University shootings today will impact students, parents and educators across the country," says Dr. David Shern, president and CEO of Mental Health America. "The media overage of this tragedy brings the issue of school safety to the forefront for all Americans. However, students may feel most at risk and may experience the most acute feelings of anxiety and fear."
To guide discussions about the Virginia Tech shooting, Mental Health America offers the following suggestions for teachers and parents as they communicate with young people 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 for 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 They may minimize their concerns outwardly, but may become argumentative, withdrawn or allow their school performance to decline.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.
The Mental Health America Resource Center can help students, teachers and parents find community resources and information. For information, please call 800-969-6642 or visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With our more than 320 affiliates nationwide, we represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation - everyday and in times of crisis.