Behavioral Health Resources following Lewiston Mass Shooting

Date: 10/26/2023

Today, we join all Mainers in grief and disbelief at the senseless violence that occurred in Lewiston and is being felt across our entire state. At our core, Northern Light Health is an organization of people who care and, today, that is exactly what we are doing. We stand ready to help our colleagues care for patients and their families and will do all we can to help our communities heal in the days and months ahead.

As we all come to terms with how close to home this tragedy has struck, Northern Light Acadia Hospital’s behavioral health professionals have suggested the following information to provide support and guidance to anyone struggling with the events of Wednesday, October 25.

Coping with Stress Following a Mass Shooting

Mass shootings and other disaster events can be extremely stressful. Mobile devices and the internet provide instant access to the details of these events, but can also overwhelm us. Graphic images and videos, often seen in real time, can be very distressing. The seemingly random nature of these events as well as the 24/7/365 access to information about disasters around the world can leave us feeling unsafe and in persistent danger after a mass shooting occurs. Constantly feeling unsafe can lead to a variety of behaviors such as trouble sleeping, irritability, difficulty concentrating, increased use of alcohol and tobacco, social isolation, and fear of those around us. In addition to the imagery, news commentary and political rhetoric that surround these events can enhance distress as well as mistrust, and further community divisions.


Restoring a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting: Tips for Parents and Professionals

Too often our children are exposed to violence that is both senseless and harmful. Many children — those living in close proximity to the event and those who will learn about the event through television, social media, or newspaper coverage — will be affected and upset. The timing of this tragedy — the holiday season — puts more responsibility on parents and professionals who interact with children during the holidays, (camp counselors, church leaders, etc,) to provide a sense of safety and communication around this event.


Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Traumatic Events

Every year, children and adolescents experience disasters and other traumatic events. Family, friends, and trusted adults play an essential role in helping youth cope with these experiences


Helping children and adolescents following a tragedy 

By creating a supportive environment where children feel safe in asking questions and believe their concerns are being heard, we can help them cope with stressful events and experiences and reduce the risk of lasting emotional difficulties. Although these may be difficult conversations, they are important. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to talk with children about these events.


Coping with Disaster

Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved. The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business, or personal property.

Children, senior citizens, people with access or functional needs, and people for whom English is not their first language are especially at risk. Children may become afraid and some elderly people may seem disoriented at first. People with access or functional needs may require additional assistance.

Seek crisis counseling if you or someone in your family is experiencing issues with disaster-related stress.


Psychological First Aid: How You Can Support Well-Being in Disaster Victims

Following a disaster, governments and relief organizations play an important role in reducing distress for both victims and the broader society.


Coping After Disaster

Following a disaster, most people will ultimately do well and return to their previous level of functioning. However, many people will initially experience distressing thoughts, feelings, and physical symptoms and may engage in risky behaviors to help cope.

Traumatic events are not easy for anyone to comprehend or accept. Understandably, many children feel frightened and confused. Fortunately, most children, even those exposed to trauma, are quite resilient. Parents, teachers and caring adults can help by listening and responding in an honest, consistent and supportive manner.

There are steps that individuals can take for themselves and their families to reduce negative effects and improve their ability to function at home, work, and school. This page features resources that can assist in coping with disasters and other traumatic events.


If you continue to find yourself struggling emotionally in the wake of the Lewiston shootings, please don't go it alone. Reach out for assistance by contacting your primatry care physician, a trusted mental health professional, or dial 9-8-8 for the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The 988 Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all across the US. Caring and helpful people are standing by to offer support.