Psychiatrist says parents should support children through dialogue in times of violence

ByMonique John via WTVD logo
Friday, October 14, 2022
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Thursday's mass shooting in the Hedingham neighborhood that has rocked the Raleigh community is putting parents on edge.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thursday's mass shooting in the Hedingham neighborhood that has rocked the Raleigh community is putting parents on edge.

The events have left many wondering how to best protect their children from getting desensitized by the violence, and how to cope with the anger and anxiety it can cause.

Wake Med Psychiatrist Dr. Nerissa Price says she was shocked by the news but unfortunately, not surprised.

Because of how common mass shooting incidents and other forms of violence have become, she is afraid people are being complacent and that there needs to be more urgency in addressing young people's mental health.

"How much more does it take for us to get the mental health resources for these children that need it? (H)ave that (be) more accessible to them instead so that they can reach out for help as opposed to reaching out to a gun--which sadly are way too accessible to them," Dr. Price said.

She said she and her colleagues have seen skyrocketing cases of anxiety and depression, particularly among young people in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, they've been seeing more and more young people coming in with homicidal and suicidal ideations.

The strains of the pandemic have only compounded negative impacts of social media and the loneliness epidemic starving young people of human-to-human interaction they need. She says those feelings of disconnection can turn into anger and violence.

However, even when children are exposed to violence whether in the media or in their own communities, Dr. Price says parents can intervene and turn things around:

"My first recommendation would be to have the conversation. They may even have opinions about what is going on, and we want to make sure that our children are processing these types of experiences appropriately and channeling it into positive responses," Dr. Price.

Experts also say parents should get their kids to be physically active and to help them find ways to creatively express their emotions when met with violence.