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Supporting Children through this tragedy

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -People are still processing the tragic shooting in Texas.  Some parents are not sure how to discuss what happened with their children.  Others fear for their children’s safety and many kids are left feeling confused and sad.  This all as a focus is put on mental health throughout this month by the mental health community.

Dr .Shawna Traugh, The Children’s Services Clinical Consultant, and Therapist with Aroostook Mental Health Center, says “It is an absolutely horrific event that has occurred and I can’t even put words to the sympathy, empathy, that I have for the families that have been experiencing that tragedy and their community.

The tragedy at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas earlier this week has left many parents and students around the country, and here in the county, wondering why. Dr. Shawna Traugh, a children’s  services clinical consultant and therapist with AMHC, says it is important for parents and teachers to validate and talk honestly about your own feelings and having an open dialogue with their kids.

Dr. Traugh mentions “Being available, starting the conversation because sometimes kids don’t want to initiate the conversation and we kinda have to push that button a little bit. And telling them and reassuring them that we are listening ears and we are not here to judge, we are here to support them.

Dr. Traugh also highlights the importance to having those  conversations with kids after a tragedy, “Wrapping around to be able to support them and navigating when they hear really bad things that happen in our community, statewide, nationwide. That they have a safe place and a safe ear to be able to have those conversations. And know that their fears are being heard, and that’s are not being minimized.”

And Dr. Traugh adds it isn’t just after tragedies these conversations should occur. Nearly five million children in the United States deal with some type of mental illness according to WebMD.com

Dr. Traugh says that we need to be focusing on mental health just as much as physical health and watching children for signs they are struggling.

“When you are looking at anxiety and depression, you are really looking at behavioral changes. It could be more fight or flight responses, you are looking at anger avoidance, maybe kids are expressing tummies hurting, or their belly aching, having more headaches.

Dr. Traugh adds resources are available to help you or your child. You can call the Maine State Crisis Help Line at 1-888-568-1112 or talk to your primary care provider or school guidance counselor. Isaac Potter News source 8.

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