Keeping mental health in check after community violence

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — A man who fired an automatic rifle at a Target store was killed by police — dozens were there and thousands have heard. No bystanders were injured by gunfire.

But the destructive power of uncontrolled fear, however based on reality, can be insidious. So be sure to check how you’re feeling.

“Whatever you’re feeling about this incident, it’s your feeling, and it’s okay to acknowledge your feelings,” said Michele Bang. “For those who are directly affected by having been to the store, they are likely to have some great emotions and feelings surrounding this. If you weren’t but feel down because it happened in our community… it’s okay.

During her three-decade career in the Omaha Police Department, Michele Bang helped establish programs aimed at protecting and serving families and children. As Associate Director of Project Harmony, her experience continues to provide guidance and direction for youth.

“Every school-age child today grew up with it quite normally. But the reality is that it’s not normal,” Bang said. “We have to acknowledge that these things are happening and that we will plan for this and think about it and be safe when that happens. If we are ever in this environment we will take steps to protect ourselves, but it is not normal and you will think about it.”

Rev. Tom Meradith, chaplain at Brookestone Meadows, was part of the Mayor’s Clergy Task Force after the Von Maur shooting spree sixteen years earlier. He agrees that these events create uncertainty and fear that cannot be ignored.

“It’s really a downward path that a healthy community cannot walk,” Meradith said. “We withdraw from everyone. We should never move away from people, but be attracted to people. Together we are stronger.”

“When people are coping with disaster, there isn’t always a perfect answer,” said Miles Glasgow of Region Six Behavioral Healthcare. “The best we can do is listen to each other and be available and point out that there are resources available to you.”

Region Six is ​​a public entity that connects people in Cass, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy and Washington counties with any help they need, whether insured or not. Glasgow says it starts with a free call to 988.

“You can call or text and that’s a trained professional who can just listen to where you are,” Glasgow said. “Whether you just have questions about this, is this normal or what am I going through right now and that someone can answer those questions and help you on where to go?”

Now that crime scene tape is gone and people here are beginning to move forward, the mental and behavioral health specialists we spoke to want to underscore the fact that one thing is not going away: There will be resources available to to help in times of trauma .

Free resources are available from Region Six and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration:

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