Disasters and traumatic events can have tremendous psychological impacts on individuals, even if they are not directly involved. People can experience a range of emotions, including anger, frustration and sadness, and can react in many different ways, including physical and psychological symptoms. The impacts and reactions can happen immediately or may appear after some time. There are steps that individuals can take for themselves and their families to mitigate and lessen the psychosomatic impacts. This page features resources that can assist in coping with disaster, trauma and tragedy.
After an event is over, APA recommends following these steps to begin coping with the possible stress that follows a tragedy:
Traumatic events are not easy for anyone to comprehend or accept. Understandably, many young children feel frightened and confused. As parents, teachers and caring adults, we can best help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent and supportive manner. Fortunately, most children, even those exposed to trauma, are quite resilient. By creating a supportive environment where they feel free to ask questions, we can help them cope with stressful events and experiences, and reduce the risk of lasting emotional difficulties. Although these may be difficult conversations, they are important.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to talk with children about these events. However, here are some suggestions that you may find helpful:
Reactions older adults may also experience:
Additional interventions for older adults:
Adapted from SAMHSA Field Manual for Mental Health and Human Service Working in Major Disasters.
What Doesn’t Help