Resources for Coping With a Crisis at School

May 21, 2013
Colored pencils next to a stack of books.

As we all try to handle our emotions after a crisis incident or a natural disaster, it’s important to consider that while it may not always feel like it, we can cope and we can help kids cope. We’ve gathered the following resources to help you handle your response to the tragedy in Oklahoma. Please feel free to add comments or links to additional materials you think might be helpful.

Finding Your Loved Ones
One of the first instincts most people have during or after a crisis is to ensure that the people they love are safe. A helpful online tool for finding family and friends after a disaster is the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well website. You can search for people who have registered themselves as “Safe and Well,” and you can register yourself to let others know that you’re OK too.

Helping Kids With Special Needs
In “Talking to Children With Special Needs About Tragedy,” Terri Mauro shares tips for using an individualized approach to helping kids cope with disaster. Among the tips:

  • Explain things clearly, calmly, and simply.
  • Keep to a stabilizing routine.
  • Focus on practical solutions.

For Educators: Improving Your School’s Crisis Response Plan
The time following a crisis is often optimal for improving crisis response plans. By assessing how you responded during the crisis, you can better prepare to ensure safety going forward. Here are a few tips:

  • Look for ways to strengthen individual and team responses.
  • Identify resources that may be helpful to students and staff.
  • Give students and staff the opportunity to debrief with a trained counselor.

Also watch the video below with school safety expert Michael Dorn of Safe Havens International for tips on responding to crises calmly, efficiently, and fast.

More Resources
SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers resources for handling disaster. Call the toll-free Disaster Distress Helpline at 800.985.5990. Learn more about the helpline.

If you're a first responder, get SAMHSA's Disaster Response Kit.

Our hearts and sympathies go out to the people of Oklahoma. For information on relief organizations, please read “How to Help Oklahoma Tornado Victims.”

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