National Council for Behavioral Health

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February 15, 2018

Aaron Cohen
(301) 633-6773

WASHINGTON, D.C. – There are no words to adequately express our sorrow about the latest school shooting. Seventeen people were killed and 14 injured February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. “A city known more for its sprawling homes and bucolic parks was transformed by a hail of bullets and a torrent of anguish,” the Washington Post reported. We grieve for the victims and their families as we search for answers.

No one is untouched by these traumatic events. Families lives are shattered, communities mourn and those who have been exposed to prior trauma may experience a painful reactivation of their symptoms. First responders are affected, as well. We must do everything we can to provide people with the resources they need to heal.

Trauma-informed, mental health and addiction services are a vital link in helping communities rebuild in the aftermath of tragedy, and National Council members in Broward County are right in the thick of it. They offer immediate assistance and long-term support – trauma reactions may appear days or even months after an event and may linger for years. What begins as a natural reaction to an unspeakable event can become an impediment to healthy living without the critical services and supports that community behavioral health organizations provide.

Individuals who know how to spot the signs of mental distress can also help. Mental Health First Aid teaches people how to identify warning signs for a range of mental health problems related to traumatic events, including depression, anxiety/trauma and substance use disorders. The program also teaches participants how to connect people to care, if necessary. For more information, see the following:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 provides 24/7 crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. You can also text TalkWithUs to 66746to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health publishes a series of Publications about Coping with Traumatic Events, including how parents, community members and rescue workers can help children and adolescents deal with violence.
  • The Child Mind Institute’s resources on Trauma and Grief feature those specific to school shootings, such as helping children return to school.
  • The National Council for Behavioral Health’s resources to help those who struggle with trauma in the wake of tragedies.
  • Mental Health First Aid trainings for adults and youth are offered around the country. Special courses are available for public safety officers and those in higher education.

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The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 2,900 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 1 million Americans have been trained.