Given the recent tragedy of a school shooting in our community, the St. Mary’s County Health Department has compiled the following resources for addressing mental health and overall well-being of children and adults. These resources are important for both those directly impacted (such as victims, witnesses, responders) as well as others in our community. If you are concerned or may need help, please seek assistance for yourselves and for your children in the aftermath of this tragedy.
Crisis Support Services
- Walden Sierra Behavioral Health is providing crisis support services through a 24/7 local hotline at (301) 863-6661.
- The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- St. Mary’s County Public Schools has arranged for onsite counseling to be available for students and their families on March 21 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (regardless of inclement weather) at two school sites, Lexington Park Elementary and Benjamin Banneker Elementary.
Ongoing Mental Health Support
Mental health evaluation, treatment, and other support resources are available in our community. Visit http://www.
Signs & Symptoms of Distress
When a community has experienced a traumatic event or crisis, children and adults may feel significant fear, anxiety and stress. This impact may be felt by those who were directly involved in the event (such as victims, witnesses, responders) as well as others who may not have been directly involved. This response may cause physical symptoms or illness in the body, emotional distress, and/or behavioral changes. Sometimes adults or children will show symptoms right away, or sometimes it may take much longer for symptoms to appear. Being involved in a traumatic event or even hearing about it via media reports may cause people to feel distress by reminding them of past events in their lives.
Parents/caregivers need to be especially alert to signs of distress in their children. The following may be some signs of distress or underlying mental health concerns in youth:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in energy or activity levels, sleep patterns, appetite
- Sleep disturbances, including trouble falling asleep or waking up too early.
- Becoming socially withdrawn or isolated from family members and peers
- Showing disruptive or aggressive behavior
- Decreased interest in or performance on schoolwork
- Attempting to draw attention or acting out when not getting attention
- Using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs (including misuse of prescription drugs) or engaging in other risk-taking behaviors
If you notice these concerning signs in your children, please bring it to the attention of your primary care doctor, mental health provider, and school counselor. Get a full evaluation and the help that your child may need.
Resources for Parents
- Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- Talking to Children about the Shooting
- Talking to Children about Violence
- Psychological Impact of the Shooting
- Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth After Mass Violence
- Helping School-Aged Children with Traumatic Grief
- Tips for Parents on Media Coverage
- Tips for Families & Educators
- Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Emotional Distress
- Restoring a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting: Tips for Parents & Professionals
- Guía para los Padres Para – Ayudar a los jóvenes después de un tiroteo reciente
- Conversando con Niños Sobre la Violencia – Sugerencias para Padres y Maestros
Resources for Staff/Responders
- Talking to Children About Violence
- Helping Youth After Community Trauma
- Tips for Self-Care
- Tips for Families & Educators
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency
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