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Psychosocial Care after the London Attack Posted on 7 Apr 2017

Psychosocial Care after the London Attack.PDF

This is a brief information sheet aimed at anyone exposed to the London attack that took place on 22nd March 2017. The emotional effects will be felt by survivors, bereaved families, friends, rescue workers, health care workers, and the general public. If you witnessed or lost someone in the attack you will most certainly have a strong reaction. Reactions are likely to be strongest in those closest to the incidents, who directly witnessed the aftermath, and who were involved in the immediate rescue and care of victims and survivors.

Brief Tips About Self-Care and Self-Help 


Common Reactions to Traumatic Events

The following responses are normal and to be expected in the first few weeks:
•Emotional reactions such as feeling afraid, sad, horrified, helpless, overwhelmed, angry, confused, numb or disorientated
•Distressing thoughts and images that just pop into your head
•Disturbed sleep or insomnia
•Feeling anxious
•Low mood These responses are a normal part of recovery and are the mind’s mechanisms of trying to make sense and come to terms with what happened. They should subside over time.

What Can People Do to Cope?

•The most helpful way of coping with an event like this is to be with people you feel close to and normally spend time with.
•If it helps, talk to someone you feel comfortable with (friends, family, co-workers) about how you are feeling.
•Talk at your own pace and as much as you feel it’s useful.
•Be willing to listen to others who may need to talk about how they feel.
•Take time to grieve and cry if you need to. Letting feelings out is helpful in the long run.
•Ask for emotional and practical support from friends, family members, your community or religious centre.
•Try to return to everyday routines and habits. They can be comforting and help you feel less out of sorts. Look after yourself: eat and sleep well, exercise and relax.
•Try to spend some time doing something that feels
•good and that you enjoy.
•Be understanding about yourself.

How Can Children Be Helped to Cope?

•Let them know that you understand their feelings.
•Give them the opportunity to talk, if and when they want to.
•Respect their pace.
•Reassure them that they are safe.
•Keep to usual routines.
•Keep them from seeing too much of the frightening pictures of the event.

When Should a Person Seek More Help?

In the early stages, psychological professional help is not usually necessary or recommended. Many people recover naturally from these events. However, some people may need additional support to help them cope. For example, young children, people who have had other traumatic events happen to them and people with previous mental health difficulties may be more vulnerable.

If about a month after the event anyone is still experiencing the following difficulties, it is a good idea to visit their GP or your local IAPT service (contact information will be available on the internet) for advice:
•Feeling upset and fearful most of the time
•Acting very differently to before the trauma
•Not being able to work or look after the home and family
•Having deteriorating relationship difficulties
•Using drugs or drinking too much
•Feeling very jumpy and having
•Still not being able to stop thinking about the incidents
•Still not being able to enjoy life at all

What Kind of Help is Available?

Psychological interventions for trauma can vary
but generally their aim is to enable people to improve coping and address difficult feelings.
Medications are not the first line of treatment but can at times be recommended and be helpful in treating some symptoms.


Contact: Psychological Response to Traumatic Events at South London and Maudsley NHS FT (

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