Richard Reid, the Clinical Director of Pinnacle Therapy, was recently invited onto Good Morning Britain to give his stance on the Paris Attacks and the mental wellbeing of those affected.  Here is a recount of his conversation from the TV interview…

The traumatic events of the recent Paris attacks have been discussed at length in the media recently.  After a trauma, people go through a wide range of responses. Many reactions can be triggered by persons, places, or things associated with the trauma and some reactions may appear totally unrelated.

 

Individuals need time to get over such a distressing incident and may firstly experience a kind of euphoria for having survived the attack, followed by huge depths of overwhelm when they realise what they have been through.

 

How do people typically respond to trauma?

People respond in a huge range of ways and usually the first month is when they start to re-adjust or not, as the case may be.  The first month is what is known as ‘watchful waiting’.  It’s a time for individuals to pick up on some of the obvious symptoms of stress and trauma and if the symptoms persist, some more intensive support may be required.

 

Do we need to be worried about people who don’t want to speak about their trauma?

We need to take into account that people operate in different ways, some people generally like to talk more about how they feel than other people, but certainly if someone is very resistant to acknowledging what has happened to them at all, that may be a cause for concern, but it’s important that we don’t push people to talk too much, as this can re-traumatise them.  It’s about gently encouraging.

 

Listening to the various accounts of how people survived the attacks is fascinating, in terms of their reactions, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of consistency to how people reacted.

There is no obvious pattern, and in scenario’s like this, we’ll see fight or flight mode kick in.  This is where the primitive part of the brain takes over and thinks purely about survival.  People react in ways that they normally wouldn’t associate with themselves, some people may attack, others may jump out of a window, there’s no predicting how people are likely to react but ultimately, people will do what they feel is necessary to preserve life.

 

After such a traumatic event, it’s important to allow yourself time – it weeks or months to accept what has happened and to learn to live with it. You may need to grieve for what (or who) you have lost.

Here are just a few coping strategies:

  • Reach out and connect with others, especially those who may have shared the stressful event
  • Talk about the traumatic experience with empathic listeners
  • Cry
  • Exercise like jogging, aerobics, bicycling, walking
  • Relaxation exercise like yoga, stretching, massage
  • Humour

 

 

Supporting the people you care about who are struggling with mental health issues is important.  Our next Mental Health First Aid Webinar session is running on Wednesday 20th January at 7:30pm and it’s completely FREE to join.  We will be looking at the skills you need to understand and support those that have mental health issues, or perhaps are overcoming mental health issues or trauma.  It may be a good introduction to you in helping to support your family, friends or colleagues through these types of issues.