Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mental Health Response Quickly Follows Navy Yard Shooting


The shooting of 12 workers at the Washington Navy Yard Monday morning, September 16, set in motion a rapid response from APA to assist area mental health professionals as they helped those affected by the tragedy. After offering its sympathies, APA sent a toolkit with information on coping with traumatic events to the Washington Psychiatric Society (WPS). The toolkit contained specific advice on communicating with the public and the media about trauma and about how to talk to children about the event.

“We know our colleagues may be called upon to deal with the mental health consequences that may arise from this traumatic event, and we are confident they will meet this challenge,” said APA President Jeffery Lieberman, M.D., in an accompanying letter.

“We are interested in being helpful, not only to those directly involved, but to the wider community as well,” said Avram Mack, M.D., WPS immediate past president, in response.

The Navy quickly set up an emergency family assistance center at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. In addition, children’s emergency response teams and school-based mental health clinicians from the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health (DCDMH) responded today to requests for help from schools in the area. “We are working with the D.C. Office of Victims Services and other District government agencies, the FBI, and the American Red Cross on longer-term services for families,” said DCDMH Director Steve Baron, L.C.S.W.

APA’s Disaster Psychiatry web page contains links to important information on coping with the mental health aftermath of disasters and tragedies. The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., also sent out relevant information sheets, including one on workplace violence.

(Image: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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