The Lincoln County Resource Board is one of five local taxing authorities providing children services, responded with information to help children cope with the Sandy Hook tragedy.
“The devastating tragedy last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School will never be fully understood,” said Becky Hoskins, executive director of the Resource Board in commenting on the joint release with the other agencies.
But what should the response here in the St. Louis region be in the aftermath of this horrific incident?
The release said;
As five of the region’s local taxing authorities for children’s services, we exist to expand mental health services and improve access to mental health services that benefit children in each of our jurisdictions. Here are some strategies that we suggest for coping with the Sandy Hook incident:
• Pay special attention to your children as they process this incident … they may need your reassurance, a listening ear or other avenues to express their feelings.
• Limit the time you allow your children (especially younger ones) to see/hear media coverage of the incident.
• Realize that this incident may cause heightened anxiety in those around you and make allowances whenever possible.
• Recognize – and be gentle – if you experience heightened anxiety yourself.
• Be aware that it will take time for people to recover from their reactions to this incident (and each person recovers uniquely).
• Don’t hesitate to request help from mental health or other helping professionals such as educators or clergy if you need extra support. Many schools are coordinating efforts on their own, so parents may find resources through their schools that are specific to their children’s situations.
• If you or someone you know is dealing with a difficult child, or child with mental illness and want information on emergency behavioral health responses, NAMI is a helpful resource. http://www.nami.org.
If you don’t know whom to call locally, dial the United Way’s 2-1-1 help line OR the Behavioral Health Response (BHR) at (314) 469-6644. Nationally, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has created some specific talking points for parents on restoring a sense of safety after a school shooting, on kids and guns, and on other topics at http://www.aacap.org.
“We know too well the stigma of mental illness, but we urge parents to not be afraid to seek help for their families,” continued Hoskins.
This incident reveals in stark terms, the importance of making high quality mental health services available to those who need it before a crisis occurs. The tragedy at Sandy Hook shows how critical these services are – and will continue to be – to Newtown, to the St. Louis region and across the country.
For more information, contact the Lincoln County Resource Board at 636-528-2490 or www.lincolncountykids.org.