Carson City - March 11, 2020
The State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with the Washoe County School District (WCSD), Washoe County Human Services Agency and local law enforcement met Monday to develop strategies and resources in support of Washoe County students, families and the Damonte Ranch school community.
“First, WCSD wants to thank the Washoe County community for their outpouring of generosity and offers of help and support to our school community in these past months. We are looking for ways to weave in the community support and resources available in support of the safety and security of our students,” said Katherine Loudon, Washoe County School District Counseling Coordinator. “We are grateful to our community partners and are appreciative of the collaborative efforts underway to identify the resources available to our children and families. WCSD is in the process of implementing our crisis management plan which was developed using national models of how best to understand and meet the needs of our school community during a crisis.”
Traumatic events often result in strong emotional reactions Some of which are outlined below, along with information on how supportive adults can help.
According to the Child Mind Institute, youth aged 12-18 years may experience a range of reactions:
• Avoidance of feelings, mood swings, and irritability
• Staying focused on the event
• Feelings of anxiety, fear, and worry
• Sadness, grief and/or withdrawal, and perhaps the expression of suicidal thoughts
• Radical changes in attitudes and expectations about the future
• Changes in appetite, sleep, hygiene, and other self-care habits
• Physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches, aches, and pains)
• Changes in academic habits, such as trouble with memory and concentration, and/or reluctance to attend school
• Lack of interest in usual activities, including how they spend time with friends and family
• Engaging in harmful behavior, like drinking alcohol, use of drugs or risky activities
What caring adults can do:
• Promote their own self-care. Let them know it’s OK to take a break from talking with others about it or from participating in memorial events
• Maintain routines. Stick with family rules, such as curfews, checking in and keeping up with homework and chores.
• Don’t push them to talk, but let them know you are available when they are ready. Be open to questions and the expression of strong feelings.
• Consider having your teen attend peer support groups and available activities that engage them in coping strategies
• Limit exposure to TV, newspapers, and radio and other media coverage
• Notice radical changes in behavior and keep a close watch on what they are planning and how they are doing. Assure them that these extra check-ins are temporary.
• Address concerning behavior. Consult with your own supports or other supportive adults to assist you in assessing your child’s unique needs during this time.
• Be aware that reminders may cause reactions
• Empower teens to maintain a sense of control. They may want to be helpful by participating in appropriate volunteer opportunities in the community
• Take care of yourself.
What School Staff Can Do to Help Students:
• Resume routine as much as possible. Inform them if you will be doing something outside of the usual routine.
• Offer choices. Traumatic events involve a loss of control and you can help them feel safe with opportunities to maintain a sense of control when appropriate.
• Recognize that changes in behavior may be transient and a sign that a child needs extra help and support.
• Provide a safe place to talk about what happened, should they choose to do so.
• Give simple and realistic answers and information about the events. Clarify distortions and misconceptions.
• Consider a memorial. Allow for participation to be optional.
• Be sensitive to cues in the environment that may cause a reaction.
• Take care of yourself.
When reactions are severe, last for longer than one month, or interfere with daily functioning, give referrals for additional help. If you are uncertain, go ahead and consult with a professional. Please review the Children’s Mental Health Resource List for Washoe County Families located on the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) website for available community resources in Washoe County.
“A core value of our system of care approach to children and youth services is that planning, services, and response are embraced at the community level,” said DCFS Administrator Ross Armstrong. “The families of Washoe County benefit from strong community collaboration and the Division of Child and Family Services is humbled to be part of that team.”
If any community providers would like to become vetted community partners please contact Rhonda Lawrence, LMFT, Clinical Program Manager II at 775-688-1600.