WEST ORANGE, NJ—As the nation grapples with the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., mental health professionals stress the importance of talking to children about the tragedy and being aware of signs of anxiety or fearfulness about going to school.
According to Christine Tintorer, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Network at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, N.J., “It’s important to talk to children about their concerns and reassure them that this shooting is an isolated incident that doesn’t happen often.“
“Parents should tell their children that it’s normal to feel anxious or sad when a traumatic event like this occurs. Talk to children about what to do if they are afraid and encourage them to find an adult to speak to.”
Dr. Tintorer says that kids may experience separation anxiety where they don’t want to leave parents as they are afraid that something might happen to themselves or their parents.
Children might be afraid to attend school and even experience stomach or headaches due to anxiety. Other anxiety symptoms children may experience include trouble with sleeping, irritability, and changes in appetite or mood.
Dr. Tintorer says that parents should be on the alert that anxiety can be a trigger for substance abuse for teens who may use alcohol or marijuana as a means of self-medicating.
For clinical referrals or more information, contact Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Network at 1-800-300-0628.
Date: December 14, 2012