NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been a long few days for Nashville as the city grieves the six innocent victims—three of them children—killed in the Covenant School shooting.
Dealing with the mental trauma following a tragedy of that magnitude can be difficult for those well beyond the walls of the school—it impacts many throughout the community. That’s why several mental health professionals are stepping up to offer free services.
Outside the entrance where the shooting unfolded, a makeshift memorial paints a glimpse into just how many are impacted, from older adults to the little ones.
“We all need help,” said therapist Robyn Noble of Vertava Health.
It’s a difficult reality to face and a conversation that’s especially hard to have with a child.
“The most important thing we can do for children is to listen and to really listen to what they have to say,” Noble said.
The sooner you talk about it, Noble said, the better to help prevent severe PTSD symptoms. “If they have fears of going to school, of hearing sirens and thinking, okay, someone is being shot at school, to listen to those and to encourage them, anyway we can, to talk about those feelings. Let them draw you know. Let them draw and talk about their feelings or some type of project like that can be helpful with kids.”
Noble said parents should keep an eye out for children who may act out or show signs of regression.
“Some of the younger children may go back to bed wetting, wanting to act like a baby. They may be very clingy, they may want to, need to sleep with a parent. They may also have some acting out, some behavior stuff because some of these children won’t know how to verbalize their feelings,” said Noble.
While catering to some of their desires is understandable, Noble says it’s best to try and keep children to as normal of a schedule as possible while helping them feel secure.
Vertava Health, realizing there is a desperate need for help for everyone in the grieving community, is offering free counseling sessions and support groups.
“We know that all of the people from the church, from the school that were directly involved, those parents, are going to be well taken care of, but there’s so many in this community who are hurting, who are confused, who are angry, who have scared kids and unanswered questions and we wanted to find a way that we could offer some type of support, as well as, some education, what to look for in yourself and in your kids as well,” said Noble.
Vertava Health will have a support group on Thursday from 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m. at their Green Hills location for parents and children in order to help parents in talking to their children about the tragedy.
There will be a support group for adults on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Midtown office. There will also be a support group just for kids, which will offer art and music therapy on Tuesday from 10:00 am to noon at the Midtown office.
For more information, or to RSVP, email Dawn.Pulver@vertavahealth.com.