Coping after a Traumatic Event

Resources to help after the Christchurch incident - 18 March 2019

Here are some messages from the All Right? campaign after the distressing and shocking events in Christchurch last week.    

Normalising our reactions

A lot of us are feeling on edge and upset right now – this is a completely normal reaction.
Disasters and big shocks take a toll on all of us and coping is not always easy.
During scary or surprising events, our brains react by releasing adrenaline. This response is our natural alarm system – our body telling us to be alert and ready for action. It’s there to help us, but afterwards we can feel shaky, queasy or on-edge, and that’s totally normal.

Looking after ourselves and each other

There are small things we can do to look after ourselves and others, even when times are tough:

Be kind to one another. Kindness is contagious, and boosts endorphins.
Take a digital detox, and focus on an activity you love. Reading, games with the kids, or a short walk.
Spend time with people you love – we all need each other. Talk about how your feeling.
Focus on the things you can control.

Supporting our kids and whānau

Children take their cues of parents — so if you’re okay, they’ll be okay too.
Be mindful how much ‘worry’ you’re displaying, just be as cool as you can!
Keep children away from the media.
Answer their questions pretty matter of factly and in very ‘general’ terms. Drama it down. You don’t have to get the answers exactly right here. Ensure you talk too about the police and how they did a really good job of keeping us safe. Keep the reassurance low key too — over-reassuring can make us think we need to be worrying more than we are!
Let them talk about it, but don’t let it ‘take over’ – use distraction to keep their mind off it – we’ve got the board games out!
Stick to your normal routines as much as you can.

For parents of teens…

Try and keep them off or away from the social media as much as you can, but it’s okay if they need to have it on tap right now – it can be a great way for them to be checking in with friends and supporting each other.
Let them know there’s a lot of hype out there.
Say that you’re sticking with credible sources of information as they report only the things released by the police and people actually ‘in the know’. If they are really affected by this ‘hype’ tell them it’s time to put the phone down or away. Keep the reassurance low key too.

Support is available

Traumatic events affect each of us differently, and we all need a bit of support from time-to-time.
There is free help available if you or someone you know is struggling. Free call or text 1737 any time, 24 hours a day. You can also call Lifeline on 0800 543354 or text HELP to 4357.


The Ministry of Health website also has resources to assist those experiencing mental distress.

Information for schools

Sparklers has wellbeing activities promote kindness, friendships and strengths in a classroom setting.
The Sparklers website also has activities that focus on understanding emotions and managing worries.

Source: All Right campaign messages (16th March 2019) and Ministry of Health media release (17th March 2019).