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03 Oct 2022

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Texas Schools Provide Mental Health Counseling after Shooting
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Texas Schools Provide Mental Health Counseling after Shooting

The Uvalde shooting in Texas – which robbed the lives of two teachers and 19 innocent children – has undoubtedly shaken the country to its core. The attack by the 18-year-old Salvador Ramos at the 600-student Robb Elementary School marked the deadliest school shooting in the history of Texas. The fury that followed the incident has elicited a lot of debate on various issues, ranging from mental health to gun control in the US.

Even as the police chief resigns from the City Council seat over the delayed response to the shooting, the wound is still fresh for many teachers, parents, and children in Texas and across the country. As a result, North Texas schools are now stepping up to the plate by pushing for mental health in the aftermath of the deadly Uvalde shooting.

No one can fathom the fear, grief, and anxiety families in Texas and across the country are going through. Yet, educators in North Texas schools want them to rest easy, knowing that the well-being and safety of their children are their top concern.

Tabitha Branum, the acting superintendent of North Texas Schools, termed the incident a “horrific tragedy” in an emotional email sent to the entire school district. In addition, she stated that children who may read or hear about the shooting could become justifiably worried and want to talk to someone to process the news healthily.

The educators want to provide mental health counseling to young people, their parents, and other loved ones who may be concerned. They don’t want a repeat of what happened after the 1999 Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting, in which an armed person attacked a youth rally and fatally shot seven people before turning the gun on himself.

In the incident mentioned above, educators at Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) were reluctant to help students process the news of the traumatic event. The aftermath of the 1999 shooting was messy and hectic despite hundreds of kids affected by the incident needing help processing what transpired. School districts that weren’t well-equipped and prepared for such a tragic event.

Many mental health experts and educators, including Kathryn Everest (the director of counseling services at FWISD), acknowledged then that schools were in dire need of training in trauma response. In addition, they needed to develop a plan for tragic events that affected the whole community. Today, Everest and her team at FWISD have since helped other Texas school districts that have experienced traumatic events.

Taking it one step at a time

With the Uvalde shooting, educators want to focus on daily steps to make students feel safe and foster confidence to seek help. In addition, identify staff who children can get in touch with if they feel anxious, in danger, or alone. More than that, the prevention and crisis response team hopes to identify students who might be suicidal, as that can make a huge difference in keeping tragedies at bay.

And it makes excellent sense: research has shown that a typical school shooter is generally suicidal before resorting to shooting. Connecting a young person who may be suicidal to the proper support, help, and rehab facilities could save many innocent lives. Others can seek care in person at private practices like Geode, opening locations in Texas from Frisco to Plano.

In a push for mental health, many officials and educators in the area are encouraging students and families to come forward with any info about extreme behavior or troubling activity. They can report via anonymous reporting apps set by the school districts or to school counselors.

Families must remember to take advantage of mental health services available to staff and students who need support. In addition, the district’s counselors regularly talk to staff or students who need help processing the recent tragic event

Beyond the school hours

School administrators are also encouraging parents to limit how much news coverage about the incident their children see to prevent anxiety flare-ups. They recommended parents openly converse with their children about what happened and listen to their concerns. Therefore, address any anxiety and stress that parents may have.

Families are also advised not to disrupt their everyday routines. Instead, they let their children attend school as usual because predictability can provide them with the necessary confidence and security. School districts’ officials emphasized to families that they have put in place several protocols and security measures to ensure the safety of their campuses. These include emergency response training and practicing with staff, faculty, and students.

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