By Carl Clark, MD, President & CEO, Mental Health Center of Denver
With all that has been happening around us, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the recent violent events occurring throughout the United States. I’m saddened to be writing again about the horrific and hateful threats and acts of violence that are occurring too often in our nation. When events like bomb threats and shootings in houses of worship, nightclubs, grocery stores, schools and yoga studios occur, we all grieve for the victims, their loved ones and their communities.
In the midst of these tragedies, we are grateful for all those who respond with compassion and gather together in solidarity, including all the mental health workers who respond to survivors and affected communities.
Each of us has an ongoing responsibility to care for and nurture the well-being of our communities, even and especially after the immediate impact of a traumatic event has subsided. With our mission to enrich lives, we must acknowledge these traumatic events affect the survivors, friends and neighbors in the areas where they occur and they affect our own loved ones, families, co-workers and communities.
Each individual’s experience of trauma is different and may impact their physical, mental, behavioral, social and spiritual aspects of their lives. I encourage each of us to listen for additional signs of distress and offer support, helping them find empowerment, choice and a voice.
As a reminder to each of you, your well-being is vital. It is important for us to care for ourselves and our families. Know that you can find support through the The Colorado Crisis Services is also available to anyone at 844-493-TALK (8255). You can also text TALK to 38255 or visit Colorado Crisis Services for a list of walk-in centers for immediate in-person support. Additional resources are at the American Psychological Association to cope with stress and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers guidance on how to speak to children about tragedies.
One final thought I feel compelled to share. We know that a compassionate response is not enough. While no single organization or person can prevent or solve these complex issues alone, we must collaborate throughout our neighborhoods, communities and country with those who are dedicated to achieving a society free of violence and hatred. Together with partners like schools, neighborhood leaders, law enforcement, legislators and other health providers, we will continue to actively promote well-being and unity. We will build upon our success in providing school-based services within Denver Public Schools, the work we are doing as co-responders with Denver Police Department, our work within faith communities, and our Mental Health First Aid initiative. We must proactively reach out to others to understand their stories, bringing them closer rather than becoming more fearful of those whom we might see as different than ourselves.
I invite you to join me and the Mental Health Center of Denver in committing to do our best to ensure that the the communities in which we work and live, are safe, supportive and welcoming to everyone.