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Therapist shares ways on how to take care of mental health amid school tragedies

Ways parents, students, teachers, and the community can help deal with traumatic anxiety
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 11:33 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - As the new school year begins, Church Hill and East Knoxville communities have gone through incidents that may have caused the first days of school a bit difficult for some.

On Sunday, members of the Austin-East Magnet High School community mourned the loss of 17-year-old Jon’quelan Mathis, and on Tuesday Volunteer High School was on lockdown after reports of an active shooter went out to the community.

Knoxville Therapist Catherine Hallam says dealing with these situations could be difficult for not only students, parents, and teachers, but it could have an impact on members of the community as well. She says during times like these, we need to rally behind one another and be kind, listening to talk to each other.

“We’re coming off of a really difficult time, and now to go back and all this violence being around a school that was supposed to be a year of new beginnings and back to normal. Now all of this has happened, so definitely giving them someone to talk to,” says Hallam.

Hallam says it’s important to not force their children to speak with them, but to let the child know someone is there to listen to them.

Hallam says even though the active shooter case was a hoax, those who here there could still be traumatized or have anxiety thinking about the moments they were in the school, uncertain about the outcome.

She says talking about our fears with a professional can improve our mental health as well.

Outside of talking with someone, Hallam says another way to better cope with anxiety is to do square breathing.

“Count and breathe, and you make a square in your mind. And what it does is it helps to reset your central nervous system. So for central nervous system gets kicked on anxiety is going to rise. If you purposely breathe in this square format, it’s going to make your anxiety comeback down,” shared Hallam.

If you need someone to talk to you can call the Tennessee statewide crisis line 24/7 at 1-855-crisis-1 (1-855-274-7471).

You can also seek counseling and therapy services in Knoxville by clicking here.

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