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Solutions to this National Crisis Coping Strategies Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Dr Lawana R Lofton PsyD

Usually on any given Friday afternoon I wish everyone a “Happy Friday,” but today it seems inappropriate.

Most in America, and abroad, are not “Happy” today.   The globe is grieving and has been touched with unthinkable reports of violence.  And, I don’t state this lightly.

Everyone internationally has been impacted by recent events, or has been made aware of the June to July 2016 horrific, countless reports of global terrorism attacks which occurred in Istanbul, Turkey, Bangladesh, India, City of Medina, Qatif, and Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, to the other large explosions in Baghdad killing 250 at market.

Then, there were the shootings of American citizens Alton Sterling and Philando Castile all within a 24-hour period by Law Enforcement Officers.   As a result of the American shootings, those in America took to the streets in protest.

State-wide protests erupted in response for Sterling and Castile’s shootings, and during these peaceful protest marches, the rally in Dallas, Texas, July 7, 2016, proved most deadly.  An active shooter emerged leaving  5 Law Enforcement Officers deceased in Dallas who were guarding the protesters.

By July 8, 2016, we learned of even more violence across other American states ….even more Law Enforcement Officers were targeted with gun violence by American citizens.

The people in America are not happy with the status quo!

The existing state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues.

Many, thousands in America, are demanding solutions.  Substantive change to end random unnecessary, lethal, fatal deaths.

It’s important to know our governments are monitoring the current crisis and taking logical steps to limit violent threats.  This is what “American’s Finest” across all agencies do best, all day in and day out.  America also extends support and resources globally to allies to boost their surveillance capabilities to prevent violence and terrorism.  Home grown violence…..today America is grappling to communicate a clear message with regards to “solutions” America should take to combat all the recent violent incidents.

It’s complicated and always emotional when we speak of racism and the reasons why American’s are protesting now, but really it should not be in my opinion.  It’s simple and I’ll share my own personal views regarding race relations in America, the history of what values built America, but for now let’s focus on community healing.

This is what matters most now.

What are American’s doing to cope with what is occurring now, today, this weekend, next week, and the weeks ahead.

 

The following is a list of Coping Strategies recommended, and a few also published by the American Psychological Association (APA) to address catastrophic violence.  List also includes important points for children.

Basic Needs:   Attend to these first.

Physical:   Stress can be reduced with proper nutrition, exercise and sleep.  Youth and adults may need to be reminded that they should take care of themselves physically to be able to help other loved ones, friends, and those in their community.

Emotional:   Youth and adults need to be reminded that their emotional reactions are expected, and will decrease over time.  However, if their reactions are too extreme or do not diminish over time, there are professionals who can be of help.   Work place Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which all large employers typically offer for no-cost [ these services are pre-paid by your employer as a part of your employee benefits.  Typically they allow you 3-5 Therapy sessions, sometimes up to 8-10 Therapy sessions with more generous employers].  Contact your HR or personnel website to locate the #800.  Services are always Confidential even if employer is paying for EAP services.  Make use of them because it’s a benefit already paid for if you make use of it or not.

Social:   Engage your support networks.  Increase communication with, and be willing to receive increased support from family members, friends, religious mentors, and the community.  All are very helpful in coping after catastrophic violence.  Also, take advantage of other means of support that are made available.

 

American Psychological Association (APA) Strategies for Coping with the trauma

Identify the feelings that you may be experiencing.  Understand that your feelings are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

Remember that you have overcome adversity and trauma in the past.  Try to remember what you did that helped you overcome the fear and helplessness in that situation.

Talk to others about your fears.  It’s OK to ask for help.

Your place of employment may convene a Group Crisis De-Briefing Session for all employees that last a couple of hours through EAP.  Take advantage of it.

Make efforts to maintain your usual routine.

Think positively.   Realize that things will get better.   Be realistic about the time it takes to feel better.

Recognize that the nature of random violence or terrorist attacks creates fear and uncertainty about the future.  Continue to do the things in your life that you enjoy. Don’t get preoccupied with the things you cannot control to the extent that they prevent you from living your normal life.

Limit exposure to media coverage.

Tips for helping children cope:

Encourage children to say how they are feeling about the event.

Ask children what they have seen, heard or experienced.

Assure children that their parents are taking care of them and will continue to help them deal with anything that makes them feel afraid.

Help children recognize when they have shown courage in meeting a new scary situation and accomplished a goal despite hardship or barriers. Instill a sense of empowerment.

Let children know that institutions of democracy are still in place and our government is intact.   It can also be helpful for adults to realize this too.  We operate on the rule of law.  Explain it if needed.

Know that it is possible for children to experience vicariously a trauma from watching TV coverage, or even overhearing adult conversations.

::::   Until Next Time:  à Donf   ::::

Dr Lawana R Lofton, PsyD

Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD –    Psychologist with one simple goal of making concepts of psychology accessible.

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