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How to cope with trauma following a mass shooting

News of mass shootings can be tough to process, but we spoke to a mental health expert who shared advice on ways to understand the trauma and approach it.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Multiple mass shootings across the nation over the weekend have many of us coping with the trauma that follows in the wake of it, even if we were never there ourselves.

For Isis Pettway, a mental health therapist with the AR ConnectNow program at UAMS, coping with trauma is part of the job. She sees clients daily who are looking for ways to understand things they're feeling.

"People tend to deal with it on their own," she said. "And then of course, if you've been impacted personally, then it brings other feelings up."

After this weekend, Pettway is taking her own advice and working through what happened.

"My initial reaction to the Buffalo shooting as a Black woman was... this is eerie," she said.

Over the weekend there were multiple shootings in major cities, including Buffalo, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Houston. Pettway said it's easy to feel as if they're a world away from Arkansas, but they're not.

Just last week, a shooting happened outside a high school graduation in Hot Springs.

"When it shows up at your front door or in your backyard, it becomes more personal," Pettway said. "It becomes more empathy than sympathy."

RELATED: Buffalo shooter targeted Black neighborhood, officials say

It's tough to recognize that what you're seeing or hearing may be too much to handle.

"It is crucial because, again, not checking in with yourself has consequences," she said.

It's why for Mental Health Awareness Month, it's important to check in on you. Pettway recommends a couple easy ways to do that.

Start by understanding what happened, but don't consume more information than you can handle. If you need a break, that's alright.

Lastly, talk through what you're feeling with those around you.

"It's very important to be aware of what your body is telling you and how to check in with yourself," Pettway said. "It's very important to understand how you can manage and cope in times like these."

To connect with Pettway and others who can help, call 501-526-3563, or click here.

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