Mental health experts advice in the wake of the Chiefs Parade Shooting


TO HELP YOU START THAT CONVERSATION ON PEOPLE ALL AROUND KANSAS CITY ARE COMING TO TERMS RIGHT NOW WITH THE PARADE SHOOTING, AND SO ARE OUR KIDS. THIS IS HARD. THIS ISN’T SOMETHING THAT WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT. WE HAVE TO AFTER WEDNESDAY’S CHAOTIC AND DEADLY ENDING TO THE SUPER BOWL PARADE, THERE’S A LOT OF EMOTION. JOHNSON COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH CALLS INCREASED 10% IN THE LAST 24 HOURS. I THINK IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE’RE CHECKING IN WITH EACH OTHER. OUR LOVED ONES, THOSE AROUND US, AND IF YOU START TO NOTICE WITHIN YOURSELF OR WITH YOUR OTHERS, YOUR OTHER LOVED ONES, THAT THEY’RE STRUGGLING IN SOME WAY OR SOMETHING’S CHANGED, IF THERE’S CHANGES IN SLEEP HABITS OR MORE ANXIETY OR TEMPERS RUN HIGH AND CONTINUE FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, IT’S TIME TO GET HELP. THE SAME APPLIES TO CHILDREN. START WITH HAVING A GENTLE CONVERSATION. WHAT I WOULD WANT TO TELL MY SIX YEAR OLD IS, GOSH, THAT’S SUCH A TOUGH QUESTION. THAT IS REALLY HARD AND THAT MAKES ME FEEL REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. I BET THAT THOUGHT MAKES YOU FEEL REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE TOO, HUH? TELL ME ABOUT THAT. AS PARENTS HAVE TO CHECK IN WITH THEMSELVES FIRST AND SAY, HOW AM I FEELING ABOUT THIS? THERE’S A MIX OF FEELINGS, RAGE, ANGER, SADNESS. YES, GUILT. SHAME. ALL THE THINGS. AND IF WE CAN CHECK IN WITH OURSELVES FIRST, OUR KIDDOS ARE SPECIALLY FEELING THAT TOO. THE BIGGEST THING IS, RIGHT NOW WE ARE ALL SEEKING A CONNECTION. SO REACH OUT TO SOMEONE IN SOME WAY.

Mental health experts advice in the wake of the Chiefs Parade Shooting

After Wednesday’s chaotic – and deadly – ending to the Super Bowl Parade, there’s a lot of emotion across the metro.

“This is hard,” said Kelly Reardon, the founder of PlayAbilities, “this isn’t something we want to talk about. We have to.”After Wednesday’s chaotic — and deadly — ending to the Super Bowl Parade, there’s a lot of emotion across the metro. Dining room tables laden with conversation, extra counselors in area schools, and calls to Johnson County Mental Health’s hotline increased 10% in the last 24 hours.”I think it’s really important that we’re checking in with each other,” said Rob MacDougall, Clinical Director of Emergency Services of Johnson County Mental Health. “And if you start to notice within yourself or that your other loved ones are struggling somewhere, something’s changed … three, four, or five weeks after the events, then that may be a place to reach out for some help.”MacDougall said changes in sleep habits, additional anxiety, shorter tempers, or isolation lasts for the next few weeks — it’s time to get help.TALKING TO CHILDRENThe same applies to children. Start with having a gentle conversation.”Be profound, yet brief,” said clinical therapist Angelique Foye-Fletcher of Resolve Counseling. If your child is eight years old, she suggests keeping the conversation to eight minutes or less.”So for kiddos who are between seven and younger,” said Foye-Fletcher, “definitely that’s the time where don’t bring it up yet. They may not be ready to process it. Right. However, if they’re not bringing it up and you want to kind of just check in, that’s fine, too, right? Because the most important thing for kiddos seven and younger is to reassure their safety.”A sample script: “Something happened yesterday. It was a big deal, and I want to make sure we have your back, right? We want to ensure that you are feeling safe. And you may have a lot of a lot of emotions about this right now.”Make sure you focus on the child’s emotions, said Foye-Fletcher, and for children under the age of seven, don’t bring up the incident unless they start the conversation. Foye-Fletcher said children may not be able to process their emotions yet.”For ages eight and up -you know, elementary school age, they’ve already heard it,” continued Foye-Fletcher. “I want to tell parents, ‘It’s okay to be profound yet brief, share and talk about the experience.’ Even lead with ‘What have you heard already?'”A sample script: “You may have heard a lot of things that happened yesterday at the parade. Taylor Swift’s boyfriend was there. Patrick Mahomes was there, and then something really big happened. Someone died.”Foye-Fletcher said it’s best to stick with the facts when describing what happened and then focus on the child’s feelings.”I’m hearing you say you’re scared,” suggested Foye-Fletcher. “You’re worried, you’re nervous.” Then she said to acknowledge the adult’s feelings, too. “I know I’m feeling scared and worried about this.”Foye-Fletcher said it’s okay for adults to admit they don’t have the answers either. “And that’s hard for parents, right? Because a lot of kids want to have all the answers, Everything. Right. But it’s always important just to kind of lead in with validating their emotions, acknowledging and validating their emotions,” she explained.”CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH STORIES””We were all impacted in different ways. And there’s no one right answer or reason or way we can have these conversations,” Reardon of PlayAbilities said. “We shouldn’t have to.”But, “whether we think they’re exposed or need to be exposed, they are exposed to what happened,” she explained. “And you can tell through their behavior, their thoughts, their feelings. If they’re asking you to play with them – those are signs that they need safety and connection.””What I would want to tell my six-year-old,” Reardon from PlayAbilities said. “is ‘Gosh, that’s such a tough question. That is really hard, and that makes me feel really uncomfortable, and I bet that thought makes you feel really uncomfortable, too, huh? Tell me about that.”Reardon continued, “You don’t have to directly say ‘yes, no, I don’t know, I’m scared, help me.’ It’s sitting with them in their feelings, listening to their questions, providing that outlet.”Reardon shared a script – and a story – through her PlayAbiliites Facebook page, explaining, “Children learn through stories.”Getting HelpOne thing every mental health professional shared is that anger is a sign that you aren’t getting the support you need. So don’t be afraid to reach out.Resolve Counseling is offering one free session next week for people in the metro.Be Collective KC is offering three free sessions. Call or text 816-200-0223 or email [email protected] County Mental Health has its hotline and call takers available 24/7: call 913-268-0156 or 988. Text SHARE to 741-741 if talking isn’t an option.YCHAT, the Youth Violence Prevention Support Line through the KCMo Health Department, is available at 816-799-1720.

“This is hard,” said Kelly Reardon, the founder of PlayAbilities, “this isn’t something we want to talk about. We have to.”

After Wednesday’s chaotic — and deadly — ending to the Super Bowl Parade, there’s a lot of emotion across the metro.

Dining room tables laden with conversation, extra counselors in area schools, and calls to Johnson County Mental Health’s hotline increased 10% in the last 24 hours.

“I think it’s really important that we’re checking in with each other,” said Rob MacDougall, Clinical Director of Emergency Services of Johnson County Mental Health. “And if you start to notice within yourself or that your other loved ones are struggling somewhere, something’s changed … three, four, or five weeks after the events, then that may be a place to reach out for some help.”

MacDougall said changes in sleep habits, additional anxiety, shorter tempers, or isolation lasts for the next few weeks — it’s time to get help.

TALKING TO CHILDREN

The same applies to children. Start with having a gentle conversation.

“Be profound, yet brief,” said clinical therapist Angelique Foye-Fletcher of Resolve Counseling.

If your child is eight years old, she suggests keeping the conversation to eight minutes or less.

“So for kiddos who are between seven and younger,” said Foye-Fletcher, “definitely that’s the time where don’t bring it up yet. They may not be ready to process it. Right. However, if they’re not bringing it up and you want to kind of just check in, that’s fine, too, right? Because the most important thing for kiddos seven and younger is to reassure their safety.”

A sample script: “Something happened yesterday. It was a big deal, and I want to make sure we have your back, right? We want to ensure that you are feeling safe. And you may have a lot of a lot of emotions about this right now.”

Make sure you focus on the child’s emotions, said Foye-Fletcher, and for children under the age of seven, don’t bring up the incident unless they start the conversation. Foye-Fletcher said children may not be able to process their emotions yet.

“For ages eight and up -you know, elementary school age, they’ve already heard it,” continued Foye-Fletcher. “I want to tell parents, ‘It’s okay to be profound yet brief, share and talk about the experience.’ Even lead with ‘What have you heard already?'”

A sample script: “You may have heard a lot of things that happened yesterday at the parade. Taylor Swift’s boyfriend was there. Patrick Mahomes was there, and then something really big happened. Someone died.”

Foye-Fletcher said it’s best to stick with the facts when describing what happened and then focus on the child’s feelings.

“I’m hearing you say you’re scared,” suggested Foye-Fletcher. “You’re worried, you’re nervous.” Then she said to acknowledge the adult’s feelings, too. “I know I’m feeling scared and worried about this.”

Foye-Fletcher said it’s okay for adults to admit they don’t have the answers either. “And that’s hard for parents, right? Because a lot of kids want to have all the answers, Everything. Right. But it’s always important just to kind of lead in with validating their emotions, acknowledging and validating their emotions,” she explained.

“CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH STORIES”

“We were all impacted in different ways. And there’s no one right answer or reason or way we can have these conversations,” Reardon of PlayAbilities said. “We shouldn’t have to.”

But, “whether we think they’re exposed or need to be exposed, they are exposed to what happened,” she explained. “And you can tell through their behavior, their thoughts, their feelings. If they’re asking you to play with them – those are signs that they need safety and connection.”

“What I would want to tell my six-year-old,” Reardon from PlayAbilities said. “is ‘Gosh, that’s such a tough question. That is really hard, and that makes me feel really uncomfortable, and I bet that thought makes you feel really uncomfortable, too, huh? Tell me about that.”

Reardon continued, “You don’t have to directly say ‘yes, no, I don’t know, I’m scared, help me.’ It’s sitting with them in their feelings, listening to their questions, providing that outlet.”
Reardon shared a script – and a story – through her PlayAbiliites Facebook page, explaining, “Children learn through stories.”

Getting Help

One thing every mental health professional shared is that anger is a sign that you aren’t getting the support you need.

So don’t be afraid to reach out.



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