June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month in the United States, which is meant to raise awareness about PTSD and provide support to those who are affected by it. PTSD is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as the event at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017.
We know that stress reactions are normal after a traumatic event and their presence are a common occurrence, not a weakness. Some typical reactions may be fear, anger, or difficulty thinking about what happened; it can cause people to be alert or “on guard.” Certain sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or touches can even activate or trigger folks. A great resource for exploring information on PTSD is available from the Veteran’s Administration, which you can view in English by clicking here.
Nurturing Mental Health in the Face of Ongoing Violence
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center held a town hall on responding to community violence on May 31 at United Way of Southern Nevada, which was streamed online. I was honored to join VSRC Director Tennille Pereira, fellow clinician Margarita Romano of Fuente de Vida Mental Health Services, and Route 91 survivor Nadine Lusmoeller. We talked about the impact of community violence, typical reactions to violence, and effective coping skills, particularly for individuals who experience PTSD.
The town hall is available for viewing through the VSRC’s YouTube channel. Here are some of the key takeaways from our discussion:
- Community violence affects all of our feelings of safety. For those who have experienced violence, it can take them back to their own traumatic event. It can also impact the general community’s feelings of safety and well-being and cause anxiety about the future.
- When feeling stress, anxiety, or depression because of community violence, there are a variety of coping skills and supports that can help, including family, friends, spiritual, peer support, medical, and professional mental health services.
- Stigma can be a barrier for seeking mental health assistance. We all need to normalize seeking help and resources.
- The Latinx community may be impacted in a different way when exposed to community violence. There can be an additional layer of stigmatization, concerns about immigration status, and language barriers. It is essential for individuals to find culturally competent services and supports to meet their needs.
- When discussing community violence with children and youth, it is important to provide information at their developmental level and be mindful of their exposure to news coverage and daily conversations.
- An important goal following a community violence event is to live a full life. This journey may look very different for each person impacted.
- Community is very important in recovery and everyone recovers in a different manner.
We hope that you can watch the town hall recording to learn about the ongoing recovery and growth of our Route 91 survivor, Nadine. She discusses her continuing journey of healing and living her life to its fullest. She is currently studying psychology to help others in the future and give back to the trauma community.
Remember That Help Is Available
As part of PTSD Awareness Month, we invite you to attend on online workshop that will go over what the Anniversary Effect is, how it might impact survivors of 1 October, and how to continue healing. Additionally, there will be a focus on coping skills for the Fourth of July, when fireworks are often a strong trigger. Click here for details and registration.
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center wants to make sure that you are aware of other services and supports that are available:
- Connection with professional mental health services through our Behavioral Health Navigator
- Support groups for individuals impacted by Route 91, emergency responders, and others recovering from grief
- Educational seminars on topics related to trauma, coping, and growth
- Peer support services through the HEART Peer Support program (Route 91 community members who are trained to provide support, connection, and referrals)
- Integrative services, including art therapy, music therapy, meditation, and yoga classes
To learn more about these or other forms of support, please feel free to browse this website, call 702-455-2433, or email email@example.com.