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NHS England issues guidance on support after Manchester attack

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NHS England has published evidenced-based advice on the care and support that children and adults affected by the Manchester attack may require.

It said that it was “common” to experience a range of symptoms – such as anger, distress, fear, guilt and anxiety - after being exposed to a “significant trauma” such as the terrorist incident in Manchester on May 22.

Those who had directly witnessed the aftermath of the attack – including healthcare workers, bereaved families, friends and emergency services staff – were likely to have the strongest reactions, NHS England experts noted.

They highlighted that while this could be “incredibly distressing,” it was natural to respond in this way and that many symptoms would reduce over time.

But young children, people who have experienced other traumatic events, and those with existing mental health difficulties may be more vulnerable, they added.

In its guidance, NHS England said there were many ways that families and friends could provide practical, emotional and social support.

It suggested those affected could share their feelings with someone they were comfortable with, listen to others’ experiences, take time to cry, and also try returning to everyday routines.

”In the early stages, rushing in with psychological help is not usually needed and can be damaging in some cases”

Tim Kendall

If symptoms persisted beyond two to four weeks, it was advised that those affected consider seeking advice from a healthcare professional.

“Parents and carers have a crucial role in supporting their child through this time more effectively,” said Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan, consultant child and adolescent mental health psychiatrist and associate clinical director for mental health at NHS England.

“By giving them an opportunity to talk when they are ready, reassuring them that they are safe and feeling upset by such an event is normal, will really help in reducing the risk of longer term problems.

”Talking is key – people need to talk to someone they trust about what happened and how it has affecting them”

Tim Kendall

“Some young people may need additional support to help them cope and the information provided will help parents know how best to do this,” she said.

Professor Tim Kendall, national clinical director for Mental Health at NHS England, said: “In the early stages, rushing in with psychological help is not usually needed and can be damaging in some cases, but talking is key – people need to talk to someone they trust about what happened and how it has affecting them.

“For those who need additional support, good treatment is available and with good NHS care many people will come out the other side stronger and more resilient.”

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