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These Helplines Can Offer Mental Health Support Following Shootings And Other Awful News

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The recent mass shootings and more incidents of people killed by police have left many feeling emotional distress — and they can exacerbate existing mental health conditions. But help is available.

Why it matters: These events can make anyone feel sad, anxious, or numb. “If you put on top of that, someone who is living with their own mental illness, I think that can really compound the two together and really make it feel unmanageable,” says Rebecca Zeitlin, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Connect with counseling: If you’re in distress, it’s important to start talking to someone about it. One option is to call the nationwide 988 hotline. And if you don't click with the first counselor, try again. Finding someone is like buying a new pair of shoes — you’re looking for the right fit to feel comfortable, says Zeitlin, who works with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, one of the organizations that run the helpline.

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The Disaster Distress Helpline: Another option is the Disaster Distress Helpline, which provides 24/7 crisis support for people experiencing any mental health challenges from natural or human-made disasters, like shootings. “Incidents of mass violence could instill feelings of fear or confusion, anger, or even helplessness for those who are either there at the location of where the mass violence was or even those who are watching it through the news media outlets,” Zeitlin said. That number is (8000 985-5990.

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