Community//

Four Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health After a Mass Shooting

How to check-in with yourself and with your community in the wake of tragedy

It’s back-to-school season for the 56 million students who will start the fall semester in the coming weeks. It’s a time of preparation, anticipation, and anxiety.  Every fall, Crisis Text Line gets ready to support an influx of texters bracing themselves for test anxiety, bullying, and peer pressure.  

This year, adding to the too-long list of mass shootings, an estimated 20 people were killed in a WalMart in El Paso, Texas this weekend—seemingly while they were doing their own back-to-school shopping. Then, another nine were murdered in Dayton, Ohio.

While mass shootings make up a relatively small portion of total deaths related to gun violence each year, they are uniquely primed to cause a flurry of emotional distress. This is in part because they take place in the most routine places: bars, churches, and schools. Given this attack on seemingly safe places, coupled with the usual media blitz, mass shootings can drum up feelings of anxiety and depression. Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your community in the wake of a mass shooting. 

  1. Reach out for help. Scientists say one of the primary ways to address the mental health challenges that come along with mass shootings is by reaching out for help. Sharing and being open about the traumatic events that are causing you stress in your life can go a long way to helping you process shock and devastation. (Reminder: You can text HOME to 741741 for support at your fingertips.)
  2. Check-in with yourself. When the news alert pings and the death toll climbs, we want people to know that they can take time to check-in with how they are doing mentally. While becoming devastatingly routine, mass shootings are never something anyone is ready for emotionally. And, safety drills may keep people safe, but do little to safeguard the mind. Take some time to check-in with yourself. We’re here to help—every day, in every way with the things that are causing you emotional distress. 
  3. Build a support network. Particularly in the wake of shocking events, it is important to find a support system of friends and family members who can help you through this challenge. Whether it’s lending an ear or advocating on your behalf when things get too overwhelming, reach out to the people who you know will be there for you. Nobody has to go through hard things alone. If you’re the support system for a child or loved one who has witnessed a mass shooting, make sure they know where they can find help. One easy way to support friends and family is by saving the Crisis Text Line number (741741) in their phones—just in case they ever need it. 
  4. Honor your feelings. Whether you’ve learned about a new shooting through the media or experienced lived through it in person, any feelings of sadness, anger, or guilt you may have about the event are completely warranted. At Crisis Text Line, we always say that it takes a lot of bravery and courage to acknowledge your feelings—especially when they’re particularly hard. Acknowledge the spectrum of emotions you might feel after a mass shooting and identify ways to process them in a healthy way.

We’re here to help you through all of the challenges in your life. Whether it’s coming to grips with academic pressures or processing a devastating shooting, getting prepared to take on the next chapter of your life could start with texting us for support. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor. We’re here for you—always.

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