Resources for Coping with School Tragedies and Community Violence

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Schools across the country have witnessed many difficult events in recent years, from a pivot to virtual learning during COVID-19 and protests for racial justice, to student suicides and gun violence. This resource page outlines resources on addressing crises that occur in schools and school communities, and how to move forward in the aftermath of these crises.

MHTTC Resources 

2023 MHTTC Grief Sensitivity Virtual Learning Institute (GSVLI) | MHTTC Network

This two-day, no-cost, training experience for the mental health and school mental health workforce took place in early November 2023, in honor of Dia de Los Muertos and Children's Grief Awareness Month. Grief experts across the country came together to strengthen grief sensitivity skills, techniques, and interventions. Both days of the GSVLI were rich with faculty who offered grounding and foundations for grief sensitivity for the mental health or school mental health workforces and its intersection with violence. Day 1 of the event had a special focus on gender-based violence, institutional violence, community violence and grief, while Day 2 prioritized school violence and grief.

Behavioral Health Resources to Support Mass Violence Trauma Recovery | New England MHTTC

In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, it’s vital to remember that recovery and healing take time, compassion, and support. Recognizing that everyone affected by this tragedy will navigate grief and trauma uniquely, the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center offers specific behavioral health resources to support survivors, their loved ones, as well as the larger community.

Bullying and Its Impact on Mental Health | Mountain Plains MHTTC

This webinar describes the forms of bullying (physical, verbal, relational, and cyber) and the factors that contribute to it. Participants learn about the short- and long-term impact of bullying on the mental health of perpetrators, targets, and bystanders. The webinar also identifies protective factors that can prevent bullying and buffer youths from its adverse impact.  

Disaster Behavioral Health: Response and Recovery Considerations | Northwest MHTTC

From wildfires to school shootings, we need to be prepared to support the mental health of students, staff and families in our school communities when disaster strikes. This concise resource is a critical tool in building your response plans.

Expect the Unexpected: Preparing for Crises in Schools | Mid-America MHTTC

This webinar series is geared toward education professionals, administrators, and stakeholders who are working together to create a school climate that aims to prevent crisis events. Every Monday in June 2021, trainers delved into an area of crisis response, including creating comprehensive crisis plans, suicide prevention and intervention, and reintegration strategies.

Healing School Communities: Shifting the Dominant Paradigm to Center Student Wellness | MHTTC Network

In early 2022, the MHTTC Network's Healing School Communities Group led a Community of Practice, Healing School Communities: Shifting the Dominant Paradigm to Center Student Wellness, to explore the roles and responsibilities of school staff and systems in supporting a school’s healing ecosystem within the context of racial violence. Case studies from members of the school mental health workforce were utilized to create solutions to dilemmas around racial violence.

How to Talk to Students about Trauma and Violence - Panel Presentation; HHS Region 8 | Mountain Plains MHTTC

In many schools, staff do not know how to respond to questions from their students about the uncertainty and violence they see, hear about, or experience; and they often struggle with their own emotions when these questions arise. This panel presentation addressed the impact of trauma on students as a mental and behavioral health concern and highlighted regional and national experts who address this topic daily.

Implementing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) During a Crisis | Southeast MHTTC

Many schools are noticing a need for SEL supports this school year, as students across the country are coping with variety of natural disasters, community stressors and disruptions to routine at school, home and in the community. In this learning session, we detail the steps of assessing student SEL needs, identifying SEL Kernels to meet those needs, and implementing SEL Kernels.

Promoting School Preparedness, Community Resilience, and Recovery in the Face of Adversity | Southeast MHTTC

This four-part series focuses on the role of schools and school mental health providers throughout crisis planning and response and will offer a framework for planning that is part of a larger trauma-informed and healing-centered approach to education and school mental health. Presenters highlight crisis planning efforts and examples across the Southeast region and nationally to promote collaborative learning.

Recognizing and Responding to Trauma in the Wake of Mass Violence | South Southwest MHTTC

This resource is a list of evidence-based and best practice interventions utilized in training and consultation opportunities the South Southwest MHTTC provides to address the trauma needs of individuals impacted by incidents of mass violence. This list may be best understood as a sampling of interventions that are best employed simultaneously, as part of an over-arching community response that can set communities on a path toward resilience.

Supporting Students and Staff in the Aftermath of Crisis and Loss | Pacific Southwest MHTTC and MHTTC Network Coordinating Office

Major events have the potential to cause short- and long-term effects on the psychological functioning, academic achievement, emotional adjustment, health, and developmental trajectory of students. This workshop helps school professionals learn basic skills in how to talk with and support individual students or the entire class/school as they struggle to understand and cope with a crisis or loss in their lives.

School Crisis Recovery and Renewal (SCRR) Project

Launched in June 2020 and funded by SAMHSA, the School Crisis Recovery & Renewal (SCRR) project is a National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Treatment and Services Adaptation Center (Category II, 2020-2025). SCRR's objective is to support students, educators, school staff, and school-based clinicians to effectively implement trauma-informed crisis recovery and renewal strategies.

Resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event

This resource describes how young children, school-age children, and adolescents react to traumatic events and offers suggestions on how parents and caregivers can help and support them.

After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal

This resource offers tips to parents on how to help young children, toddlers, and preschoolers heal after a traumatic event.

For Adults: Coping After Mass Violence

This fact sheet provides common reactions children and families may be experiencing after a mass violence event, as well as what adults can do to take care of themselves.

For Teens: Coping After Mass Violence

This resource offers information for teens about common reactions to mass violence, as well as tips for taking care of themselves and connecting with others. (En Español)

Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers

This resource describes how school-age children may feel when struggling with the death of someone close and offers tips on what caregivers can do to help. (En Español)

Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers

This resource describes how teens may feel when struggling with the death of someone close and offers tips on what caregivers can do to help. (En Español)

Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers

This resource outlines the feelings of young children struggling with the death of someone meaningful and offers suggestions on what caregivers can do to help. (En Español)

Helping Youth After Community Trauma: Tips for Educators

This tip sheet lists common reactions educators might see in the students with whom they work and suggestions on how they may help after community trauma. It also describes how traumatic events, such as a natural disaster, school violence, or the traumatic death of a peer or educator, can affect students’ learning, behavior, and relationships. (En Español)

Invisible Wounds: The Impact of Community Violence on Children and Youth in Schools

This webinar discusses the effects of exposure to violence and PTSD on learning, addresses issues related to prevention and early intervention, and discusses two trauma-specific models, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) and Psychological First Aid.

Psychological First Aid: Parent Tips

Psychological First Aid: Tips for Adults

This handout provides people with common reactions after a disaster, ways to respond to those reactions, and examples of things you can say to another adult.

Psychological Impact of the Recent Shooting

This fact sheet provides parents and providers with information about the psychological impact of a shooting and describes common reactions to events like this. These include posttraumatic stress reactions, grief reactions, depression, physical symptoms, trauma and loss reminders, traumatic grief, post-disaster adversities, and coping after catastrophic violence.

Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Organizations Employing Community Violence Workers

This fact sheet provides community violence workers with information about secondary traumatic stress (STS). This information includes how to identify STS, how workers experience STS, organizational responsibility to address STS in community violence workers, understanding who is at risk for STS, and strategies to prevent or reduce STS.

Surviving and Thriving: Conversations About Community Violence and COVID-19

This series looks at community violence, an ongoing crisis in society as many youth and families feel the destructive repercussions of peer conflicts, gun and other weapon attacks, gang fights, and public violence incidents. The COVID-19 pandemic and increased police misconduct in populations affected by community violence must be addressed for organizations to provide effective services. Experts provide their perspective on helping youth and families navigate these traumatic stressors for their own health and wellness by examining the links between community violence, COVID-19 and community unrest/protest.

Talking to Children About the Shooting

This tip sheet describes ways to talk to children about mass violence events that involve a shooting. It gives tips about how to start the conversation, common reactions children may have, and how to seek help if needed.

Talking to Teens When Violence Happens

This fact sheet includes information on checking in with yourself, clarifying your goal, providing information and options, reflection, asking helpful questions, going slow, labeling emotions, validating, and monitoring media and social media exposure.

Triumph Over Trauma: Understanding and Addressing the Needs of Youth Exposed to Community Violence

This webinar discusses the key causes, major consequences, and professional responses related to community violence and its traumatic stress-related impacts on youth. It also explores the historic and contemporary causes of violence exposure among urban youth and their families, understanding the interrelated contexts of violence exposure that impact urban youth, and developing specific goals for implementing best practices for serving violence-exposed urban youth.

Additional Resources

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