Mental wellbeing advice following the incident at Manchester Arena

Published Friday 26 May 2017 at 10:35

The national government website contains the latest public information on urgent advice and support.

This guidance is aimed at anyone exposed and involved with the incident at the Manchester Arena. The emotional effects will be felt by survivors, bereaved families, friends, emergency services, 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 incident, who directly witnessed the aftermath and who were involved in the immediate care of victims.

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
  • Nightmares
  • 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 seek help:

  • 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
  • Still not being able to stop thinking about the incidents
  • Still not being able to enjoy life at all

You can access help by:

Speaking to your local GP

Accessing your local NHS psychological therapies service: Mindsmatters mental health service.

Self-referral and information leaflets: BwD Tel: 01254 226037

The Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline – A confidential, listening and information service operated by trained volunteers. Freephone: 0800 915 4640

Lancashire Victim Services, commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner and delivered by Victim Support, is available to provide support and assistance to any victims of the Manchester events who live in the Lancashire area. In particular the NEST Lancashire service for children and young people who are victims is available to offer help and support.  The contact details are: Lancashire Victim Services – 0300 323 0085  or NEST Lancashire – 0300 111 0323 : Text NEST and your number to 60777

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