Emotional Trauma Possible at Lone Star College - North Harris Campus

Mental Health America of Greater Houston is deeply alarmed by the shooting that took place yesterday at the Lone Star College-North Harris campus—a place in our own back yard.  We are thankful that there were no casualties; and our thoughts are with those who were physically and emotionally injured during this emergency situation.  With this incident occurring only weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, we are certain that the intensity of this dangerous situation caused many at Lone Star College, another educational institution, to feel extreme fear and anxiety about their safety and security as gunshots sounded on their own campus.  

While we believe students, faculty, staff and others on the Lone Star College-North Harris campus will successfully cope with their trauma, we know that some individuals may have trouble getting beyond the negative emotions brought on by the stress of living through this frightening event. 

As wellness advocates, Mental Health America of Greater Houston is concerned about the emotional and psychological distress that experiencing the threat of harm or witnessing serious harm can create.  We encourage friends, families and others to be good listeners to someone who has gone through a traumatic event such as the shooting. When a person talks about his or her experiences it helps them to cope with what has happened to them. If it seems that they are having trouble working through the trauma, direct them to a mental health professional such as a counselor or therapist.  A mental health professional can offer additional help which would include an evaluation for a mental health disorder. In some instances, being overly stressed after tragedy or a scary event, places a person at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD—a treatable medical condition.

A person experiencing symptoms of emotional distress or possibly PTSD could have:

• Recurrent nightmares or flashbacks of the event or having the sense of reliving the experience
• Intense distress, fear, helplessness, or horror in response to cues that trigger recollections of the event
• Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the traumatic event
• Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that trigger recollections of the event
• Developing phobias of situations, activities or objects that serve as reminders of the event
• "Blocking out" memories of the event or an inability to recall aspects of the event

Health and mental health professionals suggest that when symptoms of stress and anxiety persist for longer than four weeks following a traumatic event a person may be diagnosed with PTSD.  Sometimes symptoms of stress may take a bit longer and can emerge months after the event.

Although the memories of a traumatic event do not go away, a mental health professional can help those who have experienced trauma to manage the responses to the memories and the feelings they bring up. People who hear or see trauma in the media, or who are associated with people involved in a dangerous event can also be at risk of developing mental health concerns. A mental health professional can also help them cope with their feelings.

For more information on coping with trauma or PTSD or to find a therapist or counselor, visit the resources link on Mental Health America of Greater Houston at www.mhahouston.org or contact us at irspecialist@mhahouston.org or 713-522-5161.

For additional resources on coping with violence and traumatic events please click here.

Media Contact: Traci Patterson, Director of Communications, 713-520-3476 or tpatterson@mhahouston.org

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Category: press release