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Coping with Loss – A Response to the Las Vegas Tragedy

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Meridian will now offer services through TAO Connect; a digital health company aiming to make mental health therapy more accessible, efficient, and effective. Meridian clients are given access to TAO Connect’s suite of web-based mental health tools and self-help capabilities. These tools will be used in conjunction with clients’ in-person therapy visits at Meridian. “TAO Connect will help clients receive care who currently cannot get to our clinics because they lack transportation or time off from work,” said Maggie Labarta, Ph.D., chief executive officer at Meridian. “In many of our rural communities there is no public transportation.” TAO Connect utilizes low intensity- high engagement therapy; which operates through online and mobile educational modules. The program also includes practice tools and telehealth conferences with a Meridian clinician. “Providing our patients with effective, innovative resources for the betterment of their mental health is a top priority for us,” said Donald Savoie, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Meridian. The suite includes eight online-based courses offering coping mechanisms for anxiety, depression, and an array of other mental health and substance use disorders. “Much of the TAO work can be completed by the client at home, at times convenient to them,” said Labarta. “We see this as a great way to improve access to care.” Clients also have access to interactive tools such as The Mind Elevator, which helps users alter negative thinking habits. “TAO Connect’s technology will bring our robust telehealth capabilities to the next level, providing our community with quick access to mental health resources whenever and wherever it is most needed,” said Savoie.

Loss – “The state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value”. 

This is how our English dictionary defines loss.  We each have our own definition of what loss means to us, but especially after the tragedy that our nation experienced in Las Vegas last week, this loss resounded throughout the country.  Whether you lived through the trauma yourself, are a relative of someone who did, or witnessed the aftermath on the news or social media; it is crucial for everyone to understand their emotions and develop strategies to cope. Tragedy leads us to ask many questions that are challenging for most to answer. What does this mean for my family and me?  How do we cope?  How do I feel safe again?  What can I do? Start with understanding… Understand that both adults and children experience the same feelings of helplessness and lack of control that tragedy related stress induces.  Fear is a basic human emotion intended to be protective in nature and is usually aroused by impending danger, pain, etc.; whether the threat is real or imagined.  When this type of stress and anxiety continues to be persistent and unresolved, then we begin to see various problems that start to manifest in the person’s life.  This is where coping is so important. Realize and Recover… Realizing that everyone affected by tragedies will be working through the effects of this experience for months and years to come, is very important. People often forget the enormous impact of traumatic events because when the media moves on, it seems like the rest of the world does too. Unfortunately, survivors of tragedies like these do not have that luxury. It is also important to realize that watching violence and viewing the repetitive scenes from the Las Vegas event can increase our chances of developing vicarious traumatization, meaning we can secondarily be making ourselves more likely to develop mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Things to do… As friends, neighbors, parents and community members, we need to be knowledgeable of how to support those affected by the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas.  We need to be present to their needs, both mental and physical, and be there to listen.  Not just today, but for as long as they need our support. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches community members to do just this, and through a simple 5-step action plan, ALGEE, we can provide immediate and on-going support to those in need.
  • Approach, assess and assist with any crisis
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Give support and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage other supports
Additional Resources: The Disaster Distress Helpline (DDH) is a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round disaster crisis counseling. This toll-free, multilingual, crisis support service is available 24/7 via telephone (1-800-985-5990) and SMS (text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746) to residents in the U.S. and its territories who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Quick Tips for Parents:
  • Children need comforting and frequent reassurance that they are safe.
  • Be honest and open about the tragedy or disaster.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings through talking, drawing or playing.
  • Try to maintain your daily routines as much as possible.
It is Meridian’s goal to improve the well-being and health of our patients and community.  Please feel free to reach out for help if you or a loved one you know needs additional support.  We are available 24 hours / 7 days a week at 352-374-5600 and we are here for you. If you would like to learn more about Mental Health First Aid please contact our MHFA Coordinator, Yahaira Waters, at yahaira_waters@mbhci.org or at 352-374-5600 x8652 or visit our website at https://www.mbhci.org/treatment-and-service/mental-health-first-aid/.
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