Resources for Dealing with Traumatic Events

General Resources

Disentangling Mental Illness and Violence
A column from the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association examining how psychiatric-mental health nurses can combat misinformation surrounding acts of mass violence and mental illness.

Coping with Grief after Community Violence
A fact sheet from SAMHSA on tips for coping with grief after an incident of community violence, including recognizing the signs of grief and anger, how to cope with grief, and helping children cope with grief.

Helping Victims of Mass Violence & Terrorism
From the Office for Victims of Crime, this toolkit provides tools and resources for developing a victim assistance plan that can be incorporated into a community's emergency response plan.

SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline
Free and confidential helpline that connects caller to the nearest crisis center for information, counseling, and support.

Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services
SAMHSA Treatment Improvement Protocol that discusses patient assessment, treatment planning strategies, and building a trauma-informed care workforce.

Community Provider Toolkit
From the VA, a start in the evaluation of individuals at risk for violence. Topics include suicide prevention and risk assessment, safety planning, and materials for clients.

Coping with Traumatic Events
From NIMH, podcasts, resources, and reports on coping with traumatic events.

Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events
A guide for parents and educators from SAMHSA. (pdf)

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters
From NIMH, a brochure with good advice for communities about how to talk to their kids about a terrible event. (pdf)

Coping with a Traumatic Event
CDC factsheet which provides information on responses to traumatic events, PTSD, and coping strategies for adults and children. (pdf)

Tips for Helping Students Recovering From Traumatic Events
Department of Education brochure with tips on helping students recover from traumatic events. For students, parents, school staff, and others. (pdf)

Lifetime Exposure to Traumatic Events and Subsequent Posttraumatic Stress among Adults
This SAMHSA study examines the correlation between potentially traumatic events and the occurrence of posttraumatic stress in US adults.


Mental Health First Aid
From the National Council, a public education live training course that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments.

Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide
Psychological First Aid is an evidence-informed approach for assisting children, adolescents, adults, and families in the aftermath of disaster and terrorism from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

A Mental Health Nurse’s Perspective on Newtown and Its Aftermath
Blog by Donna Sabella, MEd, MSN, PhD, RN, mental health nurse and AJN contributing editor with tips for acknowledging and processing grief.

Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC)
Supports SAMHSA efforts to prepare local entities to deliver effective mental health and substance abuse responses to disasters.

Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events
A webpage from SAMHSA featuring tips for parents, teachers, caregivers and students as well as resources for coping with grief.

Disaster Substance Abuse Services: Planning and Preparedness
SAMHSA podcast which helps those who work with people who have substance abuse issues understand the importance of disaster planning and preparedness.

Ebola: Info for PMH Nurses
Statements, resources, and information surrounding the Ebola Virus Disease.

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting
Tips from the American Psychological Association for parents to help children manage distress after school shootings.

SAMHSA's National Guidelines for Mental Health Crisis Care: A Best Practices Toolkit. These guidelines are intended to assist states and communities with the development and implementation of effective crisis services and systems.

From the National Association of School Psychologists and SAMHSA:

School Violence Prevention and Response
Listing of resources from NASP on providing support, response and recovery, violence prevention, and NASP school safety and crisis expertise.

A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope
Tips for parents, teachers, and schools when helping children cope after a national tragedy occurs.

Death: Dealing with Crisis at School Practical Suggestions for Educators
Information for preparing in advance for a possible crisis, notifying parents, and suggested roles for various school personnel.

Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events:
Tips for Parents and Teachers

Tips on how to help children deal with their anger and warning signs of emotional trauma.

Coping with Crisis—Helping Children With Special Needs
Information for when working with children with special needs who are coping with crisis. Includes triggers and tips for various special populations.

After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools
Assistance for schools in implementing a coordinated response to the suicide death of a student.

From The KySS Guide to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Screening, Early Intervention and Health Promotion:

Information for Parents on How to Help Your Child/Teen Cope with Stressful Events or Uncertainty
Signs of anxiety/stress and developmentally appropriate explanations.

How Can I Help my Child Deal with Loss and Grief?
A listing of various activities to assist a child in adjusting to loss.

How Parents can Help Children/Teens to Cope With Loss and Grief
The effect of age on children who are grieving and how to help them deal with their grief.
Online Continuing Education

APNA eLearning Center
The following presentations are from past APNA Conferences in webinar and podcast form. APNA members can use their bonus points to access this continuing nursing education content at little to no cost.



Disaster Mental Health Volunteers

Becoming a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Volunteer
Information for those interested in becoming disaster mental health volunteers for the Red Cross.

Post-Deployment Excerpt
Excerpt from the  2012 American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Handbook on post-deployment support for DMH volunteers. (pdf)

Post-Deployment Stress Self-Assessment
Tool that can help workers evaluate how they are coping during the days, weeks or months following disaster assignment. (pdf)

Natural Disasters

SAMHSA Disaster App
This app offers behavioral health responders immediate access to information for all phases of disaster response.

Greater Impact: How Disasters Affect People of Low Socioeconomic Status
Issue of SAMHSA's Supplemental Research Bulletin exploring how people of low socioeconomic status experience disasters and how to account for these individuals in disaster planning.

Managing Traumatic Stress: After a Tornado
Article from the American Psychological Association for persons affected directly or indirectly by tornadoes.

Tornadoes, Hurricanes, and Children
Tips parents and others who care for children to help alleviate the emotional consequences of trauma caused by tornadoes or hurricanes.

FEMA: Natural Disasters
Resources for before, during, and after the various types of natural disasters.



Letter in Support of the Gun Violence Research Act
APNA, with the Nursing Community Coalition, supports the Gun Violence Research Act (H.R. 1478). (March 2018)

Letter in Support of National Commission on Mass Shootings
APNA, alongside the American Academy of Nursing, urges Congress to launch a bipartisan National Commission on Mass Shootings. (February 2018)

Press Release: APNA Calls for Increased Access to Mental Health Care to Prevent Tragic Loss of Life
APNA calls for swift action to address factors that will increase access to mental health services and help prevent more senseless acts of violence. (December 2012)

Call to Action from Nation's Nurses
APNA and other nursing organizations sent a call to action in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, CT to President Obama, congressional leaders, and the National Governors Association and The United States Conference of Mayors. (pdf)




How to Help
We need your help in expanding this resource page - send us information, links, and resources that can help survivors, victims' families, and providers in dealing with the issues that arise after experiencing traumatic events. Click on the button to email us or post your comments and suggestions below.

Opinions posted below are solely those of the poster. These comments are not monitored by APNA and APNA is not responsible for their content.

Comments (20)
Order By:

Daisy Auden
Posted Feb 11, 2020 at 08:56 PM

First of all, I am very thankful to you. It is very glad to read the article. This article helps people to gain their knowledge in a specific field. I would like to share some details where it helps the people to gain knowledge

Leave Reply | Like (280) | Report abuse

Posted Nov 01, 2019 at 05:58 AM

I am currently a psychiatric nursing professor, and I have over 20 years experience as a psych CNS. I think the APNA has to take a stand for gun control. This is also an important way that we can protect the health of others. APNA made a statement about the changes in Health Care Access. I think we should do the same thing for gun control. I am offering to help.

Leave Reply | Like (636) | Report abuse

Posted Sep 07, 2019 at 12:21 AM

Great webinar best inversion table ;-)

Leave Reply | Like (408) | Report abuse

Marie Maugans-Coleman
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at 12:34 PM

I believe Gun control of automatic weapons will result in fewer deaths as it did in Australia but there is much more that is needed. The level of funding for mental health is the same as it was 20 years ago in the state of Kansas and I assume that is true for most of the States in the USA. Mental health funding needs to be addressed so more services can be provided to people in need. Being able to identify someone who should be on the no guns list should be allowed by mental health professionals including psychiatrists and mental health nurse practitioners. Getting someone on the list for no guns in Kansas requires someone to actually do harm with a fire arm or commit a felony. Health professionals need to be able to ask if someone owns guns when evaluating for danger of self or other harm. If proven therapies are not reimbursed by insurance they are not provided. Parenting classes being one such proven beneficial treatment for children. The insurance companies often dictate treatment and not research. Children learn very young to be cruel to each other and it is hard for teachers with large class sizes to manage educating and discipline. Many schools have taken away school nurses, school psychologists, RSO officers, and school social workers due to funding issues. There are so many elements that need to be addressed and I think APNA could support increased funding for mental health services, advocate for research based services being reimbursed, advocate for some Gun Control including that of automatic weapons and allowing mental health professionals the ability to identify someone for the no guns list using appropriate guidelines, and advocate for schools in ways that impact the mental health of the children.

Leave Reply | Like (834) | Report abuse

Margherite Matteis
Posted Feb 15, 2018 at 04:27 PM

I am currently a psychiatric nursing professor, and I have over 20 years experience as a psych CNS. I think the APNA has to take a stand for gun control. This is also an important way that we can protect the health of others. APNA made a statement about the changes in Health Care Access. I think we should do the same thing for gun control. I am offering to help.

Leave Reply | Like (798) | Report abuse

Peter Coggiola
Posted Feb 15, 2018 at 09:34 PM

Gun control will never work but will only encourage further acts of violence. Presently, we need to focus on how we make our schools more secure. I have worked at one of the local schools for over 20 years. Every time I go there I have to request access while still outside of the facility (Yes, there is only one access site), walk down a short secure hallway to the main office where i have to identify myself and sign the guest register adding while I am there. After this I get a visitors badge and only then am I allowed to enter the interior of the school where the students are. We need to focus also on the ability of parents, staff and students to identify behavioral signs of mental illness and establish a community where we care for each other enough to discuss with the person demonstrating the behavior changes and/or parents/staff who can then address the concerns.

Like (694) | Report abuse

Robin L Gutmann
Posted Mar 25, 2020 at 05:30 PM

For Peter. Expecting or hoping family, staff, friends, etc. will be able to assess and then report concerns related to a loved ones mental health risk is a wonderful idea but not likely to be a solution. Family and friends become desensitized to behaviors that are red flags. We cannot pin our hopes for a solution here. Common sense gun control and training staff to recognize individuals at risk are not mutually exclusive. We need to do both.

Like (279) | Report abuse

Tia Freeman
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at 07:04 PM

Do you have any free learning offers?

Leave Reply | Like (840) | Report abuse

Meaghan Trimyer
Posted Oct 02, 2017 at 11:51 AM

Yes! You can view them

Like (1020) | Report abuse

Lynn Heselton
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at 09:48 PM

APNA members are leaders in providing empathy for the mentally ill. People need more empathy and connection to heal. I have recently helped to develop a new and very rapid (sometimes only 50 minutes) treatment for Traumatic Grief and PTSD by directly activating the Mirror Neuron (empathy) Network of the brain. Read more: Revisioning:Rapid Mirror Neuron Psychotherapy for Grief and Trauma by Mark Rider and Lynn Heselton

Leave Reply | Like (1474) | Report abuse

Anka roberto
Posted Oct 02, 2015 at 12:56 PM

I am a sandy hook mom and nurse and have lived the loss of what such tragedies do to communities. The best advice I could give to the professionals in this sight is for community connections to be present without division. When such tragedies occur many times money and donations to the communities allow for walls to be built. A lot of survivors guilt set in and towns become divided. Key here is for trauma focused therapists to be made available to all families near and far from the tragedy. Allow for people to grieve together and not in isolation.

Leave Reply | Like (1628) | Report abuse

Deb Cody
Posted Dec 27, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I have been a psychiatric nurse since 1970 and have seen the changes in mental health care after 1973, when the communities "took responsibility" for care, and most institutions were eliminated. I believe that there must be a place for the shelter and care of people who cannot live a reasonably safe,secure life on their own or who are aggessive, due to mental illness. Families have to keep these people at home when they have no other resources. States should develop long term care for people with chronic mental illness who are at risk of violence or of being harmed themselves and for those mentally ill who have no resources for care. A large institution is preferable to no treatment, homelessness, and lack of monitoring for decompensation.

Leave Reply | Like (2094) | Report abuse

Posted Dec 24, 2012 at 09:55 PM

The mentally ill are somehow written off by this society. Many of my patients can still function in jobs or trades. The government can build training institutes just as protected as the hospital settings with security personel on site, where these young mentally ill patients could be exposed to productive life/skills, and not just to swallow pills. Many patients want to go back to their jobs but are denied such opportunity. Government can employ them in areas where they would not pose a risk to self and/or others. Government could also build high schools and colleges only for the mentally ill so that safety measures could easily be enforced. An idle mind is the devils workshop. The more they are engaged, the less opportunity to think/carry out violence; and the more productive they will be to self, family, and scoiety at large.

Leave Reply | Like (2344) | Report abuse

Tammy Hostetler
Posted Dec 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM

I am an assistant professor teaching Psychiatric nursing to our next generation of caregivers. I have said for years that we would all pay a price for the decrease in care of our mentally ill population who I believe have had the nations back turned against them. Lack of money and support and the continued stigma that increases with every negative, traumatic event that occurs. When will we all realize that we need to do more. There is such disparity for our mentally ill and the families that care for them. How many more must die before serious action to improve our care of the mentally ill will become a priority?

Leave Reply | Like (2115) | Report abuse

mary Schroeder
Posted Dec 22, 2012 at 05:38 PM

well done.

Leave Reply | Like (2033) | Report abuse

Posted Dec 20, 2012 at 07:54 PM

I am a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and have worked in this field for 20 plus years. Over the years there has been decreased funding for case-management services for the mentally ill. Case-management is the most important service we can provide. Trained caring professionals who go into the home and community with patients work with families and see each person in their environment. We must increase funding for this most important aspect of care.

Leave Reply | Like (2298) | Report abuse

Mary Kastner
Posted Dec 20, 2012 at 02:45 PM

I am so proud to be a member of APNA and so confident in the leadership of our organization. Such a timely well thought out and written public media release warms my soul. I have said from the time of these events in our society that is it not just gun control but three more things: Education of the public so that parents of special needs children are not judged and marginalized as are their children; Education of the parent to prevent the denial, self blame and isolation; and Access to mental health services for the special needs children and often adult children which means not just "getting into care" but timely and appropriate continuous treatment.

Leave Reply | Like (2194) | Report abuse

Theodora Sirota
Posted Dec 20, 2012 at 02:04 PM

I fully endorse the sensitive and comprehensive statement issued by APNA in response to the Newtown tragedy. Additionally, I would suggest that our leadership draft a letter to the President and Vice President offering APNA representation on the task force that is being created to address the issues and recommend immediate appropriate responses. It is critical that psychiatric nursing be included to lend our expertise and counsel to these deliberations.

Leave Reply | Like (2318) | Report abuse

Douglas Olsen
Posted Dec 20, 2012 at 12:23 PM

I appreciate the need that APNA is trying to meet with this press release and the humanity expressed in each item of the release, especially the reminder that the “perception that mental illness commonly leads to violence” needs to be vigorously combated. However, I am concerned about how the widespread linking of mass murder incidents and the need for better psychiatric care will be construed in the public consciousness. Be careful what you wish for. Programs funded out of fear with the goal of reducing mass murder are likely to be different than those designed with concern for human suffering. Mental health care desperately needs more funding. To provide care we know works more resources are needed. Better treatment might reduce mass murder incidents but it might not. Diagnostically these individuals appear to be quite different; the only real commonality being the use high efficiency weapons. Better treatment may reduce violence overall, but the data would suggest that the most reduction will come from making persons with mental disorders less vulnerable to victimization. Let’s lobby for better treatment by showing the public that persons with mental disorders are suffering and can be helped and not by a perception however mistaken that we are exploiting public fear. It’s harder but in the end may lead to a more humane system. Doug Olsen

Leave Reply | Like (2174) | Report abuse

debbie bykowski
Posted Dec 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM

I am the newly elected president of the Indiana Chapter of APNA. One thing that I would see is to increase access to parents of adult children with mental illness who watch their childrens conditions become worse and cannot do much since civil rights protect the adult child too much and treatment may not be initiated in time to prevent suicide, crimes, or other harmful acts. Any advice on how to start with this initiative would be sincerely appreciated. Warm regards, Debbie Bykowski, APRN

Leave Reply | Like (2386) | Report abuse


Add a Comment -

Your comment will appear after you confirm your email address.

Please enter the text from the image into the box below.
Note: the characters are case-sensitive.
AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION and APNA-Logoare registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as trademarks of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.