Children’s Mental Health and Trauma

“Children are resilient.” “Kids bounce back.” “They’re young, they won’t really remember.”

 In many ways, these statements are true. However, traumatic events sometimes take a toll on children more than adults realize.

That’s why it is so important to talk to children after traumatic events, such as this week’s tornados, to make sure they are dealing well with something that can be very scary.

Things often look very different right after a tornado. Your house and other buildings may be damaged. Your things may be lost. Trees may fall down. Your yard and street may be full of rubble. All of this can easily be upsetting to a child.

Cleaning things up after a tornado is hard on everyone. Children may even see their parents upset, which can add to their stress level. Children may be worried that another tornado will come or having a hard time paying attention.

Young people may find they feel sad or even angry. More commonly, children may have trouble sleeping or become frightened during the next thunderstorm.

These are all normal responses. What’s important is for parents to take time to talk to their children about their feelings. In a calm way, ask how they are doing. What are their fears and worries. Reassure them that everything is going to be alright.

In some cases, traumatic events may affect children more profoundly. That’s when it can be beneficial to go a step further and seek additional help. Four Rivers Behavioral Health’s Center for Specialized Children’s Services has a team of clinicians specially trained to work with young people.

In addition, we have clinicians in nearly every school in the area on a regular basis. School based therapy allows young people to seek services in an environment in which they are comfortable. More often than not, this makes it easier for children to open up and talk about how they feel.

Four Rivers Behavioral Health offers emergency walk-in service during regular business hours at our offices in downtown Paducah, at our Fuller Center Campus in Mayfield and at our Lakes Center offices in Murry. We also maintain a 24-hour a day, 7 days a week crisis line for after-hours care. Of course, parents can also call and make an appointment if the need is not immediate.

Services at Four Rivers Behavioral Health are covered by most insurance plans and for those without insurance, charges are determined on a sliding scale based on income.

We encourage parents to talk to their children. Check in. Ask how they feel or if anything is bothering them. Look for signs that something may be wrong, like trouble sleeping or the lack of an appetite.

Parent’s also may find they are having a difficult time. Our Adult Services clinicians are here to help. From simply needing someone to talk to, to more complex problems like anxiety or depression, our team of specialist can work with you to formulate a plan that’s right for you.

Resources also are available online from Four Rivers Behavioral Health at www.4rbh.orgas well as regional and national mental health websites such as The National Child Traumatic Stress Network at www.nctsn.org, SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at www.samhsa.gov and the National Institute of Mental Health at www.nimh.nih.gov.

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