Las Vegas massacre versus your mental health

Las Vegas massacre versus your mental health

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All things considered, 2017 has been a rotten year for traumatic events. The Las Vegas mass shooting comes after a long string of natural disasters including hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Mental health professionals are worried about how all of this is affecting our psyches.

The first way to cope with these events is let yourself feel the shock. Texas Tech Psychological Sciences Professor Chris Robitschek said many of us may start to feel vulnerable when thinking about the Vegas shootings.

"If we stop ourselves from feeling those really unpleasant reactions to trauma, then we stop ourselves from healing."

The shootings can hit home for us here in Lubbock.

"How many people in Lubbock go to country music concerts? When it's an event that is so similar to what we each do, we see it as 'that could've been me."

This can cause anxiety and may feel threatening.

"For us to feel fearful initially, that's not irrational, that's just human," Robitschek said. "I think it becomes irrational when we think 'my risk is now higher.'"

Robitschek said when our fear immobilizes us is when it becomes a problem.

"We all have to monitor for ourselves what our current level of distress is about it, and so if I feel that this is just getting to be too much and I am feeling overwhelmed by it, then I'll need to step back."

Her research shows people who have worked on developing what's called your "Personal Growth Initiative (PGI)" will cope better during times like these.

"People who have these skills are better able to see these kinds of experiences as less threatening to the self, but more of an opportunity to 'what can I learn from this, how can I grow from this, how can I become a better person as a result of this?'"

She said letting yourself process the tough emotions will ultimately result in a healthier mental well-being.

"It's not about denying that it happened and it's not about minimizing the horrific activities that happened and the horrific life that people have to lead as a result of it, it's about recognizing 'I need to take care of my own mental health' and then I'm going to come back to it when I've rebuilt my inner resources."

There are plenty of resources here in Lubbock if you'd like to seek professional treatment.

Robitschek said first check with your primary care physician for mental health treatment options. Also, Covenant Health Outpatient Clinic and the Texas Tech Psychology Clinic both have low-cost behavioral health treatment options. Depending on your insurance, private practitioners may be available to you for a low co-pay.

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