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Coordinated psychological support services

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Published: 14 Sep 2006

MUHC, CSSS de la Montagne and Dawson College to provide coordinated services and support hotline for those affected by yesterday's shooting at Dawson College.

MUHC, CSSS de la Montagne and Dawson College to provide coordinated services and support hotline for those affected by yesterday's shooting at Dawson College

The MUHC, in cooperation with Dawson College, has set up the Dawson-MUHC Psychological Support Hotline for members of the Dawson community including students, faculty and staff and families of students having difficulty coping in the aftermath of yesterday's shooting. The hotline number is 514-843-2839. A mental health team is ready to help people deal with their stress, anxiety and fear. Those who call the hotline will be referred to services provided by MUHC staff at the Montreal General Hospital, the Montreal Children's Hospital, Concordia University Health Services, McGill University Student Health and the CSSS de la Montagne through the CLSC Metro. The Dawson-MUHC hotline will remain operational for as long as needed.

The Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal has psycho-social teams available to members of the general public not affiliated with Dawson. Any person seeking psychological support can go to their local CLSC. Services are available Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 4 pm. In addition, they can call their local Info Santé 24 hours, seven days a week or call 514-934-0354. They can also call these numbers to find the location of the nearest CLSC.

"It is absolutely normal to feel stress, shock, anxiety and fear after living through such a tragic event," says Dr. Karen Igartua, MUHC Director of Emergency Psychiatry. "Our entire team, including members of our crisis team and our Anxiety Disorders Clinic, has been called in to help those in need of counseling."

"The hotline is phase one of the MUHC's plans to help people cope in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. However, we expect some people – students and staff who witnessed events or who were victims of the shooting – may need longer term support," says Dr. Eric Fombonne, Director of Pediatric Psychiatry at the Montreal Children's Hospital. "We are prepared to give these individuals priority care for as long as they need our help."

Upon discharge, the victims of the shooting and members of their family will also be closely followed by the MUHC's mental health experts to make sure they are coping well and are able to resume their regular activities.

In the coming days and months, the MUHC and the CSSS de la Montagne will be working closely with Dawson College to help meet the mental health needs of students. Plans are already underway to have MUHC mental health experts give talks to staff at Dawson to help them recognize symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in students.

What is a normal reaction?

Generally, when such a tragic event takes place people go through two stages. In the first stage, they experience acute stress, which often manifests itself through anger, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and mood swings. Normally, these symptoms will go away on their own. However, a few people, when the symptoms don't disappear, enter stage two, known as post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?

Common symptoms of PTSD are numbing, detachment, de-realization, de-personalization or dissociative amnesia. In general, people with PTSD will continue to re-experience the event through such methods as thoughts, dreams or flashbacks, and avoid stimuli that remind them of the stressor. During this time, they will also suffer from anxiety, and significant impairment in at least one essential area of functioning.

The media is asked to refrain from calling the hotline. Any requests for interviews should be directed to:

(After hours please call 514-406-3468)

Contact Information

Contact: Seeta Ramdass
Organization: McGill University Health Centre
Office Phone: 514-843-1560
Source Site: /channels
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