Be mindful of mental health during High Park anniversary

While every disaster is different, there are some disaster reactions related to the anniversary that can be anticipated. With the upcoming anniversary of the High Park Fire, there may be an increase in the distressing reactions of some survivors. These distressing reactions are often triggered by media accounts of the anniversary, seasonal changes that are reminders of the fire, personal events — such as birthdays — that correspond with the anniversary and the upcoming fire season.

Triggers:
• May increase in frequency around the time of the disaster anniversary.
• Are unique to each person
• Can occur unexpectedly and may ebb and flow
• May not be easily recognized
• Tend to happen more often when stress is present
• Setbacks in reconstruction.

Triggers commonly engage:
• Feelings you had during the evacuation
• Grief and sadness
• Fear and anxiety
• Frustration, anger and guilt
• Avoidance
• Remembrance and reflection
• Restlessness.

Anniversaries allow individuals and communities to reflect on their resilience and healing. And it is a time to mourn losses associated with the disaster. Each individual and community will perceive the anniversary differently and decide how it will be observed.

Helping children and youth cope with anniversary reactions:
• Help children recognize and cope with disaster reminders
• Allow children to experience the anniversary in their own way
• Be honest with children about adult reactions and concerns
• Limit media exposure
• Provide opportunities for children to make positive differences in their lives and communities
• Discuss concerns with teachers and others support professionals.

Tips for parents:
• Model calm behaviors
• Maintain routines
• Limit media exposure
• Repeat instructions often
• Provide support at bedtime
• Connect with other families and children
• Point out new growth.

Provided by Mountain Outreach team, 970-494-4245 or Mtnot202@gmail.com.

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