Hurricane Harvey has left Houston, Texas and much of the Gulf Coast in devastated ruin. Tens of thousands are without homes. Flooded by record levels of rain. Hundreds of thousands of cars have been flooded. Businesses have been shut down, impacting hundreds of thousands employed by those businesses. Schools have been completely destroyed, or severely damaged. Schools in the Houston area won’t start until September 11th at the earliest. Some students will have to go to different schools due to damage their school suffered.
The rebuilding process will take years.
Whether or not you and your family were flooded, lost cars, or your business was effected, it is wise to look for warning signs that your child/athlete has suffered mentally and emotionally from the traumatic week, and the aftermath that we all suffered.
Cries For Help
I am already getting calls from people asking for help dealing with the overwhelming grief, anxiety, fear, and hopelessness they are experiencing post Harvey.
The trauma associated with hurricane Harvey can have a serious impact on your child/athlete and their performance.
Many teenagers and young adults don’t have the coping skills and brain development necessary to help them deal with the overwhelming emotions, and mental over-stimulation that comes with witnessing such a stressful event.
Most adults don’t have these coping skills either.
Trauma is deepened by experiencing intense emotions during the traumatic event, seeing or experiencing the trauma repeatedly, (watching flooded homes and rescues over and over again on television) experiencing a feeling of powerlessness or inability to stop what is happening, (rising flood waters) going through a life threatening experience or hearing of life threatening experiences of others, or suffering tremendous loss during the traumatic event.
Since most teenagers and young adults don’t have the skills and tools necessary to help them process this trauma, they tend to act out their emotions through behaviors.
What To Look For
*Difficulty falling asleep
*Dramatic changes in personality
*Anger, frustration, or irritability
*Shutting down and withdrawing socially
*Feeling hopelessness, despair, depressed
*Fear and anxiety
*Excessive emotions that don’t seem to fit what is going on
*Easily startled by similar events and experiences that might remind them of their experiences during and after the hurricane. (anxiety when they hear the sound of a helicopter flying over, fear when it rains hard again, anxiety when walking through a friends flooded home.
*With athletes you might see an unexpected and dramatic change in their performance.
It’s Ok To Seek Out Support
I thought it timely to get this information out before we start seeing too many of our youth suffering.
There are protocols that can help. EMDR, (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), an advanced technique that teaches the brain how to process trauma quickly, and Eidetic Imagery, an imagery process that allows us to change our actions and outcomes in our minds.
There are plenty of mental health providers ready to help. Reach out if you see any of the signs I mention and get your child/athlete the support they need.
I know this is a difficult time for all of us, whether directly impacted by Harvey or not. The better job we do of pulling together and supporting each other the better off we will all be as a community.