Sometimes it’s only when we get together with a friend for a catch-up that we realise we’re not alone in feeling worried or distressed after a traumatic event. Often we’re surprised how a range of different feelings can emerge over the days, weeks, and even months that follow.

This seems to be the case for many, says Waitaha Primary Health Clinical Psychologist Paul Wynands following the Christchurch terror events.

“Many of us were genuinely shocked, and that can lead to unexpected feelings emerging. You certainly don’t have to live in Christchurch to feel distressed or uncertain, or to feel an unexpected range of emotions. These are all normal reactions.

“It’s not unusual for example, for some people at this time to say that they’re experiencing emotions similar to during the earthquakes, and feeling confused about that, but again, their reactions are normal.

“Trauma can be a bit like a meteor tail, the effects can linger, and unfortunately we are getting ongoing reminders, such as the bombings in Sri Lanka and the heightened security efforts on Anzac Day. It’s a good time to go easy on yourself. There are also some really simple, practical things you can try.”

Paul recommends the following resources:

Coping after a traumatic event (Word, 77 KB)
Supporting your kids after a traumatic event (Word, 43 KB)

The important thing is to get some help if you feel you’re not coping, says Paul. Contacting your Waitaha Primary Health GP is one of the best steps you can take. If you need support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing you can also call or text 1737 free, anytime, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to talk with a trained counsellor.

Paul says Waitaha Primary Health offers a range of mental health services, including expert help and links to community support agencies.

“Brief Intervention Co-ordinators are among our services.  These experienced mental health clinicians provide support for people with mild to moderate mental health concerns. The service is available for people over  the age of 18 with a referral from a member of their primary health care team. You can receive up to five free sessions. Working with a clinician you will develop personal psychologically based strategies. Community support agencies are also available if you need ongoing support.

“Keep in mind that you’re not alone in this. Connect with your GP, and from there we’ll work with you to get you the support you need, ” says Paul.