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"My staff (at Sioux Trail Elementary) have been sharing about Headway's training sessions. Teachers come back from the trainings excited to try new strategies and they have new understanding regarding mental health issues. This is making a difference in their classrooms and helping them relate to students when they are struggling."

-Shannon McParland, Principal, Sioux Trail Elementary

Headway Minute

December 19. 2012

"Talking to Youth about Traumatic Events"

The killings in Connecticut and the interrelated issues of mental health treatment has become the dominant topic of conversation in every area of our lives. At work, in social settings, with friends, with strangers and within our homes, talking about a tragedy of this magnitude is difficult for everyone. Talking about it with children is especially difficult and many parents are reluctant to bring it up due to concerns that they will "make it worse" or be asked questions they do not know how to answer.

How do I talk with my kids about this?

One of the positive aspects of the internet is the ability for everyone to access quality information and guidance. As an organization that works annually with over 11,000 individuals and families seeking support for emotional health, we want to ensure that reputable resources are easily accessible to parents and others regarding communication with children. On our website, www.headway.org, we have posted information organized by the Ambit Network, a University of Minnesota mental health community resource for traumatized children and their parents, intended to help parents discuss the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

In addition to these resources, our own Dr. Hal has blogged some tips for talking with children about traumatic events.

The emotional impact of the Connecticut killings has been overwhelming for many people who had no direct connection to the violence. Adding to the emotional impact is the proximity of the event to Hanukkah and Christmas holidays. The holiday season often brings added stress and emotional challenges themselves. It is important to keep in mind that high stress and increased emotions will affect decision-making and daily activities. Prior to the Connecticut incident, Dr Hal prepared some tips for coping with holiday stress. These tips can be accessed here.

We wish you and yours a happy, healthy New Year filled with peace.

Pat Dale, CEO
Headway Emotional Health Services

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