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Mental health support for the public following the Manchester Arena Incident

24th May 2017

Who is this for?

This guidance is aimed at supporting young people, families and the wider community in the immediate aftermath of this incident. Please see our key messages here.

What this means?
Unprecedented large scale traumatic events will have an impact both directly and indirectly, across families, professionals and our diverse communities. It is important to ensure that we can provide coordinated accessible information and support to all of those who may be affected.  We have already started to respond to the acute impact of the event. Across Greater Manchester, we are keen to ensure that there is a coordinated response, visible leadership, accessible, evidence based support across the region and our health and care systems.

Acknowledging response to trauma
It is important to acknowledge that everyone reacts differently to a traumatic event.   Initially it is important that all those affected have access to someone to talk to or to listen informally and that those more significantly affected are identified over time and signposted to individual or 1:1 support.

Key messages for all:

  1. Normalise responses to traumatic events
  2. Communicate effectively and regularly
  3. Make space and time to talk
  4. Leaders should be visible
  5. Keep messages consistent
  6. Immediately after a traumatic event, both children and young people together with adults benefit most from general support and do not benefit from psychological therapy including counselling; as this could impair resilience building
  7. Do not encourage people to relive their experience. Evidence shows this leads to worse outcomes this is different from allowing people to talk spontaneously about their experience
  8. Identify those most vulnerable to developing post traumatic mental health needs and provide additional support and monitoring
  9. Many children and adults do not go onto develop mental health conditions and recover naturally, however, if symptoms are severe or continue beyond four weeks weeks further specialist mental health advice should be sought
  10. Specialist interventions should only be considered when symptoms are staying the same or getting worse

Information for parents, children and young people:
Children and young people will respond to trauma in different ways over time dependant on their level of involvement in the traumatic event, their age and level of development, certain personal factors that influence their resilience, the availability or otherwise of social support and the degree of disruption to the world in which they live.

There are approaches that support children and young people through this time more effectively which include:

  • Let them know that you understand their feelings
  • Listen to children, give them the opportunity to talk if and when they want to
  • Be consistent and reassuring
  • Continue to keep routines and normal daily activities
  • Keep in touch with school/college about supporting a consistent approach
  • Keep them from seeing too much of the traumatic pictures of the event

There is a variety of information that children and young people can access directly in their own right or with support of an adult / parent / carer.

Please see links below for helpful websites and information leaflets if you’re upset or made anxious by the news:

BBC Newsround: appropriate for children and young people primary school age and upwards

The Mix: appropriate for older young people 13-25 years

Royal College of Psychiatrists: coping  after a traumatic event

Great Ormond Street and Child Bereavement: advice for parents/ carers / professionals in supporting children after a frightening event

NSPCC: talking about terrorism – tips for parents

Information for adults affected
Many of the issues facing children are common to adults too. What is important is to recognise that these are normal responses to trauma and whilst they can be incredibly distressing, many of these symptoms will reduce over time. These responses can also take many forms including physical such a fatigue and emotional including fear, anxiety and anger. Support from family and friends can be powerful solutions to managing these difficult but normal experiences. It is also possible for a trauma such as this to trigger previous traumatic events such as the Manchester bombing that took place in 1996 and again the same principles apply.

Please see links below for helpful websites:

NHS

Australian Psychological Society

Royal College of Psychiatrist 

Victim Support:

If you have been affected by the terror attack at Manchester Arena, help and support is available. Contact Victim Support‘s support line on:

  • National helpline number: 08 08 16 89 111 (24 hours)
  • Victim Support Manchester office: 0161 200 1950 (Monday to Friday 9am – 7pm / Saturday 9am – 5pm)