Health expert talks about Texas school shooting anxiety we all feel

Tuesday's school shooting is a story everyone has heard before - and one that hits close to home in Oxford, one that involves elementary school-age kids, like Sandy Hook.

Along with Buffalo, New York, it is the second mass shooting this month alone. So how do we continue to process these horrific events?

"Every American child needs some trauma and crisis support after this but the parents as well - and then the community at large," said Patrece M. Lucas, a mental health counselor.

The images of people scrambling for safety from a school shooter as police move in, as they attempt to eliminate the threat are terrifying, sickening, and all too familiar.

What do we do with this tragedy?

"We have to pause and process this info and ask what does this tell me," said Lucas. "Everything makes sense in its proper context. What I mean is, this shooting makes sense from the perspective of what is happening here in America."

Lucas is a mental health counselor from Detroit, a mother of school-age kids, and a concerned community member. She, like us all, is having to process these events in real-time.

"We need to recognize, 'I don’t even want to see it, it's uncomfortable for me, I’m experiencing what is called vicarious trauma from this,'" Lucas said. "But we need to put weight on the powers that be, that need to handle it."

The scope of the Texas shooting, with more than 20 victims, most of them kids 10 and under, makes it hard to comprehend, especially as details around the tragedy are still coming to light.  

How we consume the information depends on what we intend to do with it.

"Everyday citizens we shouldn’t be turning away but protecting our mental health while consuming this information," she said.

Through it all, health professionals say it's important to check in on ourselves. Whether we are aware or not, news of this kind tends to raise anxiety levels which can lead to other health problems.

One way to lessen that is simply remembering to breathe. 

An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. (ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)