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Borderline Bar & Grill Shooting Disaster Response and Recovery Resources

Acts of mass violence, such as the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California cause extreme disruption and can be distressful for individuals, families and communities. Those receiving assistance as well as those involved in disaster management efforts can be affected. Ongoing national media exposure creates a disaster "community" that extends far beyond the geographic region of the event. Individual and community strength can be enhanced by interventions that address critical behavioral health issues throughout response and recovery phases. Ideal interventions promote the evidence-based principles of Psychological First Aid (PFA), including: safety, calming, self- and community-efficacy, social connectedness, and a sense of hope/optimism. Information relevant to this event and links to succinct, actionable education fact sheets can be found below.

Common Responses to Disaster
Grief: Understanding and Managing
Vulnerable Populations
Health Risk and Crisis Communication
Workplace and Organization Support

 

Common responses to disasters include distress reactions (insomnia, irritability, loss of safety, social isolation, blaming and scapegoating) and health risk behaviors (increased use of alcohol and tobacco, reduced attention to health care). For healthcare personnel, being alert to these reactions and behaviors, promptly identifying them, and providing interventions can reduce distress and improve functioning and may decrease the likelihood of ultimately developing mental disorders. Normalizing the reactions and offering anticipatory guidance about what to expect with symptoms over time, as well as when to get help and where to go, help people feel calm and enhance feelings of efficacy. The following resource(s) address this topic in further detail:

FACT SHEET: Helping Communities After Disasters

FACT SHEET: Coping with Stress After a Mass Shooting

 

Grief is a near universal experience for those directly impacted by mass violence, such as the shootings at the Borderline Bar & Grill. In the immediate aftermath, some will lose loved ones or suffer injuries themselves. Many will experience increased fear and reduced feelings of safety. Loss of control and life routine often compound feelings of grief. Community leaders, those leading disaster management efforts, and healthcare providers can help affected individuals by gently inquiring about, acknowledging and then allowing individuals to process grief. Grief support also involves addressing feelings of loss, mourning losses, and fears about the future. Anxiety about the future is best managed through “problem solving” (supporting people in connecting with practical help when available). Being sensitive to the need for rituals, such as memorial and funerals, to support expressions of grief allow for healing, which ultimately strengthen communities. The following resource(s) address this topic in further detail:

FACT SHEET: Helping People After a Loss 

FACT SHEET: Grief Leadership in the Wake of Tragedies

FACT SHEET: Leadership in Disasters & Lessons Learned

 

Special populations may be more vulnerable than others and warrant unique considerations. Such populations include: children, women, cognitively and mobility impaired, pre-existing mental health conditions, first responders and public health emergency workers (including volunteers). Children will need support and monitoring at home and at school. Partnering with community leaders, healthcare organizations, and local schools create opportunities for to provide education and resources as well as support community efforts to reduce distress and enhance well-being. Focused interventions can more quickly and effectively address the unique needs of these populations. The following resource(s) address this topic in further detail:

FACT SHEET: Supporting Those with Pre-Existing Mental Health Conditions

FACT SHEET: How Families Can Help Children

FACT SHEET: How Schools Can Help Students

FACT SHEET: First Responders, Emergency Workers & Volunteers and Exposure to Human Remains

FACT SHEET: Maintaining the Well-Being of Healthcare Providers

 

Risk and crisis communication are a critical behavioral health intervention following a community disaster. For those leading disaster management efforts, understanding what to say and what not to say, when and how to say it are important elements. Basic principles include being clear and succinct; stating what is known and unknown; indicating when you do not know the answer, committing to following up at a specific time and then doing so; avoid lying or efforts to be overly reassuring as these erode trust. Effective communication following a disaster can reduce distress and enhance well-being for affected communities. The following resource(s) address this topic in further detail:

FACT SHEET: Leadership Communication During Crisis

 

Workplace and organization management following a disaster is an important part of restoring community functioning. In addition to financial support, workplaces and organizations often provides a sense of meaning and social connectedness. Effective support for personnel can enhance functioning for both the individuals and the affected workplace or organization. The following resource(s) address this topic in further detail:

FACT SHEET: Workplace and Organization Management After Disaster

 

Additional detailed resources can further knowledge about effective preparedness, response, and recovery measures. Some are brief while others are more detailed. Reading more detailed resources, such as books about disasters, during an actual disaster response is not likely to happen. However, as the initial response slows a bit, these offer much more in depth treatments of key topics to consider, which may assist with immediate response and recovery and enhance preparedness for future events. Links to additional websites, fact sheets, articles, and books can be found below:

Additional free fact sheet resources at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress

APA - Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

AACAP - Responding to Gun Violence

Disaster Psychiatry: What Psychiatrists Need to Know (T Ng)

Textbook of Disaster Psychiatry, 2nd Edition

Disaster Psychiatry (F Stoddard)

Resiliency in the Face of Disaster and Terrorism (J Napoli)

Integrating Emergency Management and Disaster Behavioral Health

Disaster Psychiatry Handbook

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