Back to school could re-open crash trauma

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is warning Humboldt residents the return to school this fall may stir feelings about the Broncos bus crash – and they are ready to help.

Tracy Muggli, director of mental health services, said the authority has been preparing a back-to-school response since the collision happened. They have been consulting with experts from the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and

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Trauma Response and have been told the return to school can trigger feelings of sadness and grief.

“Things will be different for a number of people, including students, so we wanted to be mindful of that and make sure that we could support people in whatever way they needed,” Muggli said.

Teachers and school staff might have problems adjusting to the new normal. Bus drivers might worry about their passengers’ feeling as they get on a bus. Students might be afraid to travel on a bus. Others might be reminded about past traumas as they encounter the many activities connected with the collision. A counsellor with the health authority can help provide the techniques and skills that can help deal with these triggers and move forward.

The authority has had an additional counsellor with mental health services on the ground in Humboldt since the collision and they are working with local schools to come up with a plan to provide additional supports for students if they need it.

Partners Family Services also has additional supports ready.

The Humboldt-area mental health line is at 306-682-5333, Partners is at 306-682-4135, while the provide-wide mental health number is 811.

Delayed reactions to tragedies like this one are common.

“There’s community members, parents, even kids who have been what we refer to as overfunctioning, wanting to make sure that they’re available to help other people,” Muggli said. “Sometimes that can cause a delayed response for themselves to be able to deal and grapple with their own feelings about the situation.”

Others might have longer-term responses that may intensify with time if they don’t seek professional treatment.

The mental health services director also wanted people to know that they the right to be impacted as much as they need to be.

“Sometimes people feel like they’re not entitled to feel badly or to grieve about something when perhaps they perceive somebody else as having it worse than they’ve had it, even though they’re having a lot of emotions about the situation.”

For those that might know somebody that’s struggling, Muggli said it’s helpful to be a friend and provide a listening ear, but it’s also important to provide to with information on how they can be connected with a counsellor.

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