The Uvalde Mass Shooting and Family Mental Health Concerns

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kids by the river

Recently, another tragic mass shooting in the United States unfolded in the relatively small community of Uvalde, Texas. There is no need to rehash the horrors of that day, as anyone who has any connection to the people there or to any type of media already understands what took place. What we’d like to focus on now is the very real issue of family mental health in the wake of these traumatic events, even for those who were not there.

We are going to leave the debate regarding mental health and gun ownership to others, as that is not our place. Instead, our team at SoCal Empowered wants to help people deal with the aftermath of this terrible situation, as unfortunately, statistics should tell anyone that this very well could happen again. Specifically, this aftermath directly relates to the issue of overall family mental health, as both parents and children across the country are doubtlessly feeling a range of emotions in the wake of this awful crime.

SoCal Empowered wants to help people deal with the aftermath of this terrible situation

The bottom line with regards to your family mental health concerns, whether this is affecting the adults, children or both in your household, is that it is quite normal and rational to feel an emotional, even visceral response. It’s also hardly abnormal to encounter some symptoms of mental health challenges given the depravity of this entire situation. Below you’ll find some information regarding recent levels of parental concern regarding school shootings. You’ll also see some ideas to consider with regards to parents’ mental health and how to approach this situation with your children.

Family Mental Health – Overall Parental Concern

Sadly, we all understand that the Uvalde school shooting was not a one-off event. Instead, it’s only the latest in an ever-growing list of tragedies. As such, there is research that exists regarding all of this, and one of the most important pieces of literature that all parents should take a few minutes to review comes from a Gallup poll that was done in 2019. This poll was taken in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, neither of which occurred at a school.

As you’ll see, at that point in August of 2019, more than one-third of parents were concerned about the safety of their children at school. The highest percentage of parental concern that Gallup recorded was in 1999, not long after the infamous school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. See the graph below for a full record of these parental concern percentages:

Gallup poll showing parental concern as it relates to family mental health.
Gallup poll showing parental concern as it relates to family mental health.

(Source Link)

As you can see, the parental concern percentage never drops below 15 percent, which indicates that this is a constant concern for a large number of parents across the United States. Simply put, this type of ongoing worry can and in some cases does create problems with regards to family mental health.

Parental Self-Regulation

In order to be able to promote an environment of positive family mental health, parents need to start with the foundation that is themselves. After all, it’s extremely difficult to help others through mental health struggles if someone is suffering as well. It is, as mentioned above, quite normal and reasonable for parents to feel a level of anxiety in the aftermath of these terrible events. That’s why parents should consider some techniques that will help them maintain their own internal balance.

First, parents should not feel guilty about self-regulating before getting into the process of helping their children. This is the logical way to progress, and everyone is somewhat different in this regard. For instance, some parents may experience a downturn in emotional stress simply by going for a walk or taking some time for themselves. Others may consider turning off all media for a while, as studies have shown that consuming too much news can begin to affect mental health negatively before too long.

Basically, whatever it takes, make sure you do what you can to put yourself in the strongest position possible in this regard, as that should be thought of as the first step towards maintaining or restoring overall family mental health.

Talking To Your Kids About These Situations

Most people don’t need psychological experts to tell them that simply ignoring this issue with your children is problematic. Despite the stress and negative feelings involved with school shootings and other traumatic events, you’ll need to make the time to discuss these situations with your children so you can not only help them to feel better, but also so that you can feel better about things as well.

The best way to do this is by directly engaging with your children. Allowing others including peers and, worse, social media posts to shape their thinking and their feelings could lead to harmful results. Northeastern University published an article that provides some helpful guidelines for these conversations, and one of the central themes is that parents need to prepare to listen as much as anything else. Making sure your children know that they can lean on you is enormously important for their overall mental health.

Ultimately, you know your children better than anyone else, so trust your instincts when you see things from them that send up proverbial red flags. Don’t simply allow them to work through this on their own, as no one can completely process these unfathomable events within the context of normal, everyday living.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

Ours is a mission that we will never stop pushing forward, in that we will always do whatever we can to help adults deal with mental health challenges. Strong family mental health is critical for every member of a household, and if you find yourself struggling mightily, you can always contact us for input.

If we decide that you or another adult should come and stay with us to get things handled, that’s what we’ll tell you. If we think another approach makes more sense, we’ll help you down that path as well. We’ll even deal with your insurance company should you need our inpatient help so that you won’t have to worry about any surprises in that regard.

We live in very troubling times, and there is no established roadmap for this. We hope that everyone out there stays safe and does what’s necessary to protect their family mental health status.

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