Psychological support available for people affected by the attack in Manchester on 22 May 2017

02 Jun 2017

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Talk Liverpool have produced the following advice for people involved in the attack and their supporters

If you were directly involved…

If you were directly involved in the attack in Manchester on 22 May 2017, or in caring or treating people involved in the incident, or you have been emotionally affected by what has happened to family or friends, please look at the psychological care leaflet available. This describes common reactions to a traumatic event, such as feeling afraid, sad, horrified, helpless, overwhelmed, angry, confused, numb or disorientated or having distressing thoughts or images, or nightmares, feeling anxious or low and unable to sleep. It offers simple suggestions for how to cope and ways in which children may be supported to cope during the next few days.

How you can help if talking to someone who was involved….

People will be affected by the attack in very different ways. If you are talking to a person, family member or friend who was involved in the attack, it is important to show them that you understand and care, and ask them how they would like to be helped. Show them the psychological care leaflet if this is helpful.

Be aware that providing support does not have to be complicated – it can be about spending time with the person, having a cup of tea or coffee with them, or giving them a hug.  People show distress in lots of different ways. Don’t tell the person how they should be feeling – remind them if necessary that everyone deals with trauma in their own way and at their own pace.

Don’t force the person to tell their story – only encourage them to talk about what has happened and their responses when they are ready to do so. The person may not want to talk at right now, or they may need to talk time and time again about the event – so you may need to be willing to listen on more than one occasion. Be aware also that the person may experience survivor’s guilt – the feeling that it is unfair that others died or were injured severely while they were not.

Encourage the person to identify sources of support, including loved ones and friends, and to tell other people when they need or want something, rather than assume others will know what they want. Encourage the person to take care of themselves, get plenty of rest and do things that feel good to them – take baths, read, watch films, go for a walk. Suggest they think about any coping strategies they have used in the past and use them again. Encourage them to spend time somewhere where they feel comfortable and safe. Discourage the person from using unhelpful coping strategies, such as alcohol or drugs, self harm or going into overdrive at work.

Additional support available

If you or someone you know is 16 years and older, and you think it would be helpful to talk through your experiences with a therapist who can listen, you can ring the Talk Liverpool number on 0151 228 2300. Over the next 5 days, this facility will be available on a 24 hours basis and will cover the bank holiday week-end.

The person answering your call will take down your contact details and pass them onto to a Talk Liverpool Manager who will ring you back within the hour, and arrange for you to speak to a therapist within the next 24 hours. Usually, this will be a single session conducted over the phone, with a further face-to-face appointment if required.

Over the next few weeks, many of the feelings and symptoms experienced by people following the attack will reduce with time.

If after a month anyone is still experiencing the following difficulties, it is a good idea for them to contact their local GP or Talk Liverpool for further help and advice:

  • Feeling upset and fearful most of the time.
  • Acting very differently to before the trauma.
  • Not being able to work or look after the home and family.
  • Having deteriorating relationship difficulties.
  • Using drugs or drinking too much.
  • Feeling very jumpy or still having nightmares.
  • Still not being able to stop thinking about the incidents.
  • Still not being able to enjoy life at all

 

What to say if a person expresses concern or distress about a future attack

Some people will start to feel vulnerable and start making decisions based on fear of future terrorist attacks, even if they have had no direct involvement in one. In particular, people who have a tendency to worry may begin to ask themselves questions such as ‘Could it happen here? ‘What if it happened to me or somebody I care for?  How would I feel?  Could I cope?

These fears are understandable. However, the advice is to go about everyday life as much as possible and try to keep to everyday routines.

 

For more information and brief tips about self-care and self-help following the attack, please click here.

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