Coping strategies and resources in the wake of the Elkhart shooting

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Elkhart, Ind. In the wake of the shooting tragedy at the Elkhart Martin's Super Market, psychologists say it is normal for regular shoppers and community members to feel anxiety when returning to their normal schedule.

“I think its important for both children, parents and regular people who go to that grocery store to know that it's natural and expectable that they would feel anxiety -- that they would feel some worry or stress,” Dr. Jean Marie Thompson of the State of Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction told NewsCenter 16.

Thompson says children are often the most vulnerable in disaster situations.

“For children in particular, parents should explain to them that something bad has happened, that bad things to do happen,” Thompson said. “But children, particularly depending on age, don’t need to know all of the details nor do they need to have constant reminders of that. So tell them but also limit the amount of time they are exposed to the media coverage and social media sites talking about the incident.”

Thompson is also a team leader for the State of Indiana Canine Assisted Crisis Response Team. The group uses therapy dogs to help those exposed to disaster situations calm themselves and help to cope with the emotions they are experiencing.

“The act of petting a dog will lower a person's blood pressure,”: said trainer Timothy Engel. “It will lower a person’s stress hormones in their body so its physically healing as well as emotionally healing.”

Engel says that connection helps the response team to connect with people and administer “psychological first aid,” so to speak.

The team, which covers a 7-county area, has reached out to the Martin’s managers and says they are ready to give assistance to anyone feeling the negative emotional effects of this tragedy.

“As the days proceed and people may be experiencing some problems that they weren't anticipating -- our team is only a call away and we are glad to be there,” Thompson said.

There are also plenty of other resources for people dealing with this week’s events.

The Disaster Distress Helpline is always available at 1-800-985-5990. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also a resource for people dealing with suicidal thoughts or for those who recognize those tendencies in their friends or loved ones. That number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

There are also plenty of online resources available. Those include The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website at www.samsa.gov.

There will also a Youth Mental Health First Aid Training program sponsored by the Elkhart County Health Dept. that will take place on January 30. It’s an all-day class for adults working or living with adolescents interested in learning how to assist in a crisis and recognize the warning signs.


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