With the holidays approaching, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center encourages residents, visitors and responders affected by the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting on 1 October to reach out for emotional and mental health support.
"For those who lost family, friends, or colleagues from the shooting, facing the holidays, anniversaries and other special events without our loved one is very painful," said Ellen Richardson-Adams, Outpatient Administrator for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. "For those who survived the shooting with or without physical injury, the holidays also can present emotional challenges because you may not feel celebratory or you may feel stress or anxiety doing things that normally wouldn't bother you such as traveling or being out and about in crowds."
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is working with community providers to start a therapy support group for survivors of 1 October and those affected by the incident. Anyone interested in participating should call the resiliency center at (702) 455-AIDE (2433) or 1-833-299-AIDE or email it at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is a place of healing and support dedicated to serving as a resource and referral center for anyone affected by 1 October including people injured in the shooting, their family members, responders and citizens who assisted victims, and bystanders and hotel workers who witnessed the aftermath of the incident. The center is located at 1524 Pinto Lane in Las Vegas near Martin Luther King Boulevard. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Its website address is: www.VegasStrongRC.org
"We are working with local therapy providers to help us establish support groups for people impacted by the traumatic events of 1 October," said Teresa Etcheberry, assistant manager of Clark County Social Service and manager of the resiliency center. "Anyone interested in joining a support group is encouraged to contact us so we can gauge interest and determine what resources are needed for staffing and locations."
Mental health experts stress that people grieve and cope with trauma in different ways, and reminders of 1 October can hit people at different times and in unexpected circumstances such as hearing a particular song, watching news stories about other violent events, or seeing and hearing fireworks or other loud noises. An interview with Stephanie Woodard, a licensed psychologist with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, is posted on Clark County's You Tube channel discussing difficulties people may experience following 1 October, coping strategies, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSMnSut6WHM.
It's important not to suffer in silence," Woodard said. "Find someone to talk to – a pastor, a friend, a therapist. Oftentimes talking things through will help you become aware of things that might cause anxiety so you can find new or better ways to cope. It's important for everyone to manage stress during the holidays and for individuals who have been affected by the events of October 1, managing stress may be more difficult. Pay attention to how you are feeling and reach out for support if you find yourself struggling."
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests the following tips for coping with stress and anxiety:
- Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
- Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Check out the fitness tips below.
- Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
- Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn't possible, be proud of however close you get.
- Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
- Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
- Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.
- Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you're feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
- Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you're feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.