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'Do not be afraid to ask for help': Omaha psychiatrist shares tips on processing mass shootings

Posted at 10:30 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 07:27:42-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Mentally processing the images that come from mass shootings can be difficult at any age.

Dr. Jennifer McWilliams, the Division Chief of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital says when families see upsetting images that it’s important to use that opportunity for a healthy discussion.

"By ignoring it or shutting down conversations that actually intensifies some of that anxiety and fear," said McWilliams.

Secondly, she says balance is important for families. This makes sure kids don’t get overwhelmed.

"These are unspeakable events and they are happening more frequently," She said. "With that said, it’s not happening every day in every city."

McWilliams also recommended families only consume the right amount of news media and direct their attention elsewhere.

Finally, she said it’s important to remember the good people that respond to emergency situations.

"Think about all of the positive people in that environment, " said McWilliams. "All of the teachers, first responders, law enforcement (and) E.M.S. that came and are protecting those kids."

At a time when kids are already under so much stress, McWilliams said mental health matters now more than ever.

"This is just one more drop in the bucket," she said. "If parents and caregivers do find that their kids is struggling, do not be afraid to ask for help."

McWilliams also added it can be easy for parents to be desensitized to mass shootings because of how often they can occur. She suggests parents know how to talk with their child individually.

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