September 11, 2017

Helping others through trauma

Source:  NYSUT Social Services

Many individuals and families are likely to be traumatized by what they lost and endured because of the destruction caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Of course, we, as human beings, can suffer from all forms of trauma, yet we seem to find ways to recover

The support of family and friends is critical when someone is coming to terms with a traumatic event.

When someone you care about struggles with traumatic distress they may appear distant or may shut down. Often, they are trying to block out painful memories and can feel sad or numb. They may stop engaging in family life, become irritable and or ignore offers of help.

These reactions are signs that they may not be coping, and are not are necessarily directed at you. They really need your ongoing support, though they have not figured out a way to ask for help.

Here are some practical tips to provide support:

  • Re-establish a normal routine. This helps create a sense of predictability and control.
  • Try to offer practical suppor, such as child care or grocery shopping, so the person can have time and space to begin to deal with the event.
  • Encourage them to limit their exposure to media coverage of the event.
  • Remind them to look after themselves by getting plenty of rest, eating well and exercising regularly.
  • Cut back on coffee, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.
  • Encourage them to plan to do at least one enjoyable thing each day.
  • Acknowledge their achievements no matter how small.
  • Enourage them to seek professional help if they are finding it hard to cope two weeks or more after the traumatic event.
  • If they don’t want to talk about the event, spend time with them and LISTEN without rushing to simple reassurances.
  • Take care of yourself so you can be available as needed. Helping someone going through a traumatic event can be very draining and difficult.

For more questions or referrals, contact NYSUT Social Services at (800) 342-9810, Ext. 6206, or send an email to All correspondence is confidential.