As Londoners and others up and down the UK remember the terror attacks that took place a week ago tomorrow, the Mental Health Foundation explains how human beings are able to overcome traumatic events, in order to cope and recover. The charity believes that London’s reaction shows that the city’s population is largely in good mental health, with strong community networks and a desire to express its shock and grief without resorting to extreme acts.
Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says:
“While people are travelling to and from work on public transport, in and around major cities in the UK, some individuals will be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety. This is to be expected, it would be abnormal to feel no anxiety and people should not be embarrassed or frustrated by these feelings.
According to McCulloch, people will be dealing with their anxieties through normal processes which are instinctive to humans:
“People deal with extreme situations like this in their own way. It will be entirely normal for people to find themselves dreaming about the attacks. Dreaming enables humans to process their unconscious, unfinished thoughts and feelings. People may also find themselves wanting to talk about the attacks and relive their movements leading up to them. People will find it helpful to talk to their colleagues, friends, and families, in addition to laying flowers and signing books of condolence. These are very healthy ways of coping and processing what has happened, and very important ingredients to natural recovery. We have strong psychological defense mechanisms, which enable us to cope.
“While most people will only experience normal levels of anxiety and disturbance, a smaller number directly affected by the terror attacks may experience distressing symptoms, especially later down the line, as a result of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. But these mental health problems are all treatable and I believe our health care system can support and intervene to help individuals in need, as long as we acknowledge the reality of the problem.”