The recent bushfire season in Australia has been catastrophic. Many families have felt overwhelmed and devastated by the scenes which emerged during and following this unprecedented emergency. Children can be very vulnerable at such times and don’t always understand what they are seeing. It can make them feel sad, anxious and even stressed.
Some students may be directly affected, whereas others may have been exposed to horrific images through the extensive media coverage. Whilst most young people will recover and resume normal functioning, there will be some that will be directly or deeply affected, who will require psychological support. Research has shown there is an increase in mental health problems, especially in recovering communities, up to 3 or 4 years after a bushfire.
As adults, we need to manage our own shock, grief, anxiety and anger before talking to young people about the bushfires. However, there are several key strategies that can be implemented to support kids who feel scared or worried as a result of this event.