6 Parker Chronicle
May 17, 2019M
‘Our school districts are strong. Our communities are strong’ Community rallies support; mental health resources abound BY ALEX DEWIND ADEWIND@COLORADOCOMMUNITYMEDIA.COM
In the aftermath of tragedy, mental health experts point to resources and encourage the community to stay resilient. “We are strong. Colorado is strong,” said Dr. Sarah Davidon, research director at Mental Health Colorado, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the treatment and prevention of mental health and substance-use disorders. “Our school districts are strong. Our communities are strong.” Colorado knows the sequence of events all too well. The May 7 shoot-
ing at STEM School Highlands Ranch that left one student dead and eight others injured adds to a list of mass shootings the state has experienced. Anxiety and tension following such a tragedy are common feelings in adults and children, Davidon said. It’s important for young people to know they are safe, their schools are safe and their feelings are validated. “Kids sense a lot of anxiety and tension in the adults around them,” Davidon said. “Certainly we want to let children know that when something like this happens, it’s OK to feel these things.” Individuals process trauma differently. Some may react within weeks of a tragedy. For others it may take weeks or months, according to mental health organizations. Symptoms to look for in children are a hyper-focus on death, problems with eating and sleeping, changes
in behavior and school avoidance, according to Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization that advocates for family mental health. In adults, responses to trauma may include flashbacks or nightmares, fear, edginess, social isolation and changes in mood. Mental Health Colorado is one of several public health organizations that offer a robust network of online resources. For help in a number of areas — grief, how to find mental health services near you, suicide prevention and more — visit www.mentalhealthcolorado.org/help. Coming together Since the May 7 shooting, hundreds of people, from near and far, have used social media to connect with others and brainstorm ways to support those hurting. Starting May 10, Fastsigns, a cus-
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tom sign and graphic company based in Englewood, is giving away “STEM Strong” yard signs in honor of Kendrick Castillo, the STEM student who was killed in the shooting. The company requests a $10 donation in cash or check, which will go to Castillo’s memorial fund at Wells Fargo. Larissa Croll, owner of Fastsigns, 5124 S. Broadway, thought of the idea when a Douglas County teacher requested the sign, she said in a news release. “Our community is rallying around the students, teachers and families affected by this tragedy and around the first responders who were there to help,” Croll said in the release. In Highlands Ranch, Shaylynn Hall, a STEM parent, organized a May 10 supply drive to thank and honor law SEE COMMUNITY, P22