COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – There has been a lot of talk about violence in central Ohio, especially when it involves young people, and hearing about it can impact mental health and cause anxiety.
When you hear or read about a violent crime that takes place in your community, it’s okay to feel sad or upset, but for some, it can go beyond that.
“For some people, the anxiety becomes really overwhelming and it may cause them to ultimately avoid particular places,” OhioHealth Medical Director of Psychiatric Emergency Services Megan Schabbing said. “For some people, anxiety can actually lead to not leaving your home, or not being able to make it to work, or not being able to enjoy relationships.”
If you think a loved one might be experiencing any symptoms, the first step would be to reach out and check on them, because, for some, that may be all they need to feel better. Experts also recommend trying some self-care techniques.
“I always tell people, I would take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes a day to really do whatever it is that you enjoy, think about where your happy place might be,” Schabbing said. “Who are the people that make you feel happy? What are the things that you enjoy doing that make you feel more calm or make you feel good?”
For some people, that may be exercising, journaling or just talking with a friend or loved one. There are some warning signs to look for.
“Warning signs for anxiety, number one, not sleeping, not being able to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep to where it’s really causing problems for you the next day,” Schabbing said. “For some people, it can be physical complaints like some people have anxiety and it really manifests as more of a physical problem like a stomach ache or a headache, particularly in children. For some people, it really can lead to avoidance behaviors that can be problematic.”
If you have young children and they’re watching the news, Schabbing said it’s important to have those open conversations.
“It’s important to sort of help them understand what’s going on,” she said. “With your kids, if you notice they appear anxious about something they saw on the news, definitely start the conversation and a good way to start the conversation with your kids is, ‘What have you heard? Tell me what you’ve heard,’ so you can, first, correct any misinformation and then open up the communication so that your child feels comfortable talking to you about how they may be feeling about what they saw.”
There are also different avenues you can take if you feel like you need to seek help. 988, the suicide and crisis lifeline, is one way.
“There are folks here in Columbus that are able to meet your needs, they know the neighborhoods, they know where to get people to so it’s not like you’re calling New York or Washington,” Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation Executive Director Tony Coder said. “You’re literally calling someone right here in central Ohio.”
988 will be able to connect you to local resources, whether it’s a professional counselor or sending a mobile crisis unit to your home.
The most important thing is, if you notice a change in a loved one, say something.
“It doesn’t take anything except a couple seconds; ‘Are you doing okay?’ Then if they say, ‘Yeah’ then at least you know you have done your part,” Coder said. “But if they say, ‘I’m really struggling,’ then you can actually help save a life and that’s really the greatest thing we can do for another human being.”
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