Mass Shootings and Hate Crimes Affect the Mental Health of Many Already Impacted by the Pandemic

County Behavioral Wellness and the Community Wellness Team Remain Available to Offer Support

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.)  –  The recent mass violence even, which killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder Colorado, has created a range of emotions and concerns of safety in the community. This event follows the shootings in Atlanta just last week. After two mass shootings in less than one week, the effects these events have on the community are felt even stronger when coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mass shootings as well as other disaster events can be extremely stressful, even if not happening in our immediate community. Much like the feelings which surround the pandemic, the random nature of an event followed by constant media exposure to the event can leave us feeling unsafe during a time that we are already waiting a return to normal from the pandemic. 

Important also to recognize the nature of the attacks in Atlanta as being the latest in a year of horrific racist attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Behavioral Health Directors Association shares data that since last March, there have been 3,795 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans nationwide, of which 68% were reported by women, according to Stop AAPI Hate. These incidents have included homicides, assaults, and instances of harassment or vandalism against AAPI individuals, businesses, and communities.

The cumulation of events paired with the existing stress of the pandemic can leave people with behaviors such as trouble sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased use of alcohol and tobacco, social isolation, and fear of those around us.  Tips for self-care include limiting exposure to imagery on the media, especially for children, take time for yourselves, get outdoors, get plenty of sleep, keep routines and stay connected with others, talk about the event(s) and your reactions, and reach out for support when needed. When talking to children, use age appropriate language, ask questions about what they have seen or heard and listen to concerns and respond in an empathetic non-judgmental way.  Be sure to keep routines.  It is important to remember to reach out for help as a tool to help us manage the challenges of these events and strengthen ourselves overall.

To learn more about Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness please visit http://countyofsb.org/behavioral-wellness.  The Community Wellness Team remains available by calling (805) 364-2750 or visiting their website at www.sbccwt.org.  The Behavioral Wellness 24/7 toll free Crisis Response and Services Access Line can be reached at (888) 868-1649. 

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