Oct 27, 2023

MAMH is shocked and saddened by the lives lost and harmed by the mass shooting in Maine last month, and we extend our thoughts and sympathy to all who were directly affected by these events.

Community violence can have a deep and lasting impact on mental health, even for people who were not present and do not have a direct connection to people who were present when the events occurred. People may experience a wide range of emotions, ranging from fear and anxiety to anger to numbness, and levels of distress may go up and down over time. People who have experienced trauma in the past may be more at risk.

We encourage people who feel overwhelmed by the news to take a break from it. Connecting with your body and surroundings in a physical way – taking deep breaths, going for a walk, exercise – can be very helpful to respond to immediate distress. Doing something productive – donating to victims, volunteering to make resource kits for first responders – can help to mitigate feelings of helplessness. Across the country, calling or texting 988 provides 24/7 confidential emotional support for people who want someone to talk with.

Many clinical and peer-led interventions can be helpful in managing feelings of distress that persist over time. Your primary care provider is a good source of referrals for these services. In Massachusetts, the Behavioral Health Help Line (833-773-2445) connects people by phone or text with local resources and support – and a live person will stay on the phone until that connection is made.

Many people have asked how to talk to children about this tragedy. If possible, it’s best to limit exposure for young children, but children may still hear about events and have questions or feel anxious. When that is the case, it’s usually best to provide brief explanations that emphasize that many people – parents, teachers, law enforcement – are looking out for them and will keep them safe. It’s sometimes helpful to point out the many ways that they are protected, such as adults in their classrooms and playgrounds and locked doors at school and at home.

Trauma-Informed Hampshire County compiled a list of resources for parents and caregivers whose families may have experienced trauma. These include:

If your child has behaviors that may be the result of trauma, the UMass Chan Medical School’s LINK-KID program can help find a trauma-trained mental health professional to provide support.

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