On April 16, a Virginia Tech student killed 32 people in a campus dormitory and classroom building, injured 15, and left countless others in shock and mourning. To help the survivors and the public cope with this tragedy, the APA Disaster Response Network provided support to the American Red Cross operations at the university. According to the Red Cross Montgomery-Floyd chapter in Blacksburg, Va., more than 50 volunteers specializing in disaster mental health care volunteered in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
These volunteers offered emotional and psychological support to students and families at a Red Cross comfort center on campus. They helped survivors, family members, and university and community members cope with the trauma, and they connected people with resources to aid them longer term.
At the same time, APA's media relations staff referred psychologists to media outlets, with the goal of informing the public about topics such as trauma and trauma response; school safety; criminal behavior; evaluating dangerousness; and coping in the aftermath of the shootings. APA members appeared on dozens of media outlets, including CNN, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," National Public Radio, Time magazine and BBC Radio. Additionally, APA Practice Directorate Public Education Campaign Coordinators disseminated APA materials to community outlets and local media nationwide. In a related education campaign, APA Public Policy staff provided Virginia legislators with information on trauma, trauma response and resources.
APA used the Web to provide further assistance and information. APA's Practice Directorate public relations staff, with input from members, created a "Tip Sheet for College Students" dealing with the emotional effects of the shooting and another document offering stress-management tips for parents.
The materials were featured on the APA home page and Help Center and they were picked up by the Virginia Tech counseling center Web page.
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