U-M Counseling and Psychological Services

We at CAPS would like to acknowledge the distressing events of March 16th and validate the many reactions within our UM community. Although the active shooter threat was false, the instinct for survival and concern for one’s own safety, as well as the safety of others was not.  This experience was very real for those who ran and barricaded themselves in rooms around the Diag, as well as for those who were fearing for friends and colleagues.

This was a terrifying experience for many students, staff and faculty on our campus. We want to recognize the particular impact this may have on our Muslim student community, in the wake of the vigil for New Zealand shooting victims, as well as other religious communities and communities of color for whom gun violence is all too real. ”Leaders At Their Best” do what we can to support one another in a community of caring and not trivializing the event or someone’s reactions.

Reactions to the experience of fear and terror may show up in several ways. Physiologically, the brain and body may move into one of the primal “flight, freeze or fight” modes of existence.  People may experience shock and may respond in unexpected ways. We would like to validate all of these responses and recognize them as normal reactions to an abnormal, fear-inducing situation. Common responses to a traumatic event include physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual reactions as noted below (image 1).

Recovery and healing will take time, and will be unique to each individual.  Increasing awareness of the present moment, especially through our physical senses (images 2 & 3) can help, as can physical movement.  Revisiting a memory (or imagining) a place and time of safety and comfort, or listening to music may help shift a mood and allow someone to refocus.  Studying may be more effective in smaller chunks of time, and being in community with others may be important.

We are here to support our UM students as we move forward from this event together.  Find more information about CAPS Clinical Services HERE.