Trauma & mental health
Do you need help?
Experiencing trauma can cause strong feelings such as fear, sadness, guilt and anger. These feelings usually lessen over time and most people can return to their day-to-day activities after a few days or weeks. If you or someone you know is still distressed or not coping emotionally two weeks after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, it is important that you talk to a health professional you trust.
Talk to your doctor at any time if you feel very distressed or your reactions are interfering with your work and relationships.
You may also want to talk to a health professional if:
- You have experienced other traumatic events in your life and they led to problems such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder
- You feel isolated and don’t have the support of your family and friends
- You are thinking of harming yourself or someone else
For more information about the kind of problems that can develop as a result of experiencing trauma and may require the help of a health professional, click here.
Talk to your doctor at any time following a traumatic experience if you feel very distressed, or your reactions are significantly interfering with your work and your relationships. They can determine if there is a problem and what the best approach might be.
Mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers can also help you decide what form of care will suit you.
Meanwhile, there is a lot you can do to help yourself adjust to the experience you’ve gone through and recover. Recovery following a traumatic event is different for everyone. Some people recover best by getting back to their day-to-day activities as soon as possible. Others need to make sense of what happened by talking to family and friends about it.
Here are some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ to help you manage the first days and weeks following a traumatic event:
For more information click here.
The support of family and friends is one of the most important elements of a person's recovery following a traumatic event. But it can be very difficult to watch someone you care about struggle with their distress. You may find yourself constantly worrying about their wellbeing and feel helpless when confronted with their emotions. They may seem disinterested or distant as they try not to think or feel in order to block out painful memories, and so you may feel shut out.
A person affected by a traumatic event may stop participating in family life, ignore your offers of help or become irritable. It is important to remember that these behaviours are part of the problem, they are not about you. They probably need your support but don’t know how to ask for help. There are many ways you can help:
Listen and show that you care
Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings but don’t force them to talk if they don’t want to. Remember that you are not their therapist and don’t have to find solutions for them. Simply listening to what they have to say can make a difference.
Look after yourself
Supporting someone can take a toll on you. Take time out and reach out to friends or supportive people in your community. If you are not coping, ask your doctor or a counsellor for help or to suggest support groups.
Offer practical support
Help with housework, filling in claim forms or caring for children.
Encourage your family member or friend to seek help and stay focussed on recovery
Acknowledge their difficulties and congratulate them on the steps they've taken towards recovery.
Join them in doing enjoyable things
It is important to gradually go back to participating in activities you enjoy.