How national tragedies affect mental health, how to cope - FOX Carolina 21

How national tragedies affect mental health, how to cope

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(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez). Dallas police Sgts. Amanda Renteria, left, and Laura Browning right, add to a makeshift memorial in Dallas, TX. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez). Dallas police Sgts. Amanda Renteria, left, and Laura Browning right, add to a makeshift memorial in Dallas, TX.
PACOLET, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The images on TV and online can be hard to process. 

Recent tragedies in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana are just the latest in a barrage of disturbing images we cannot unsee. Dr. Evelyn Hunter, psychologist with North Main Counseling Center in Greenville, said the videos and live feeds we've seen recently, showing people dying, can take a toll on our mental health, even though those tragedies typically happen far away. 

"We are more connected through social media, through video," said Dr. Hunter. "So there is sometimes a feeling of closer connection to some of the issues."

In fact, studies have shown many Americans suffered from symptoms of PTSD after watching live pictures on 9/11/01. 

"Seeing it live makes it real for us, it reminds us of our humanity, and that is uncomfortable," said Hunter. 

There is also a spiritual toll to taking in gruesome images day in and day out, said Pastor Larry Black, chaplain for the Spartanburg Police Department. He said he is able to minister to cops and the community, and said despite the sometimes divided cultures, individuals need to first acknowledge how an event is making them feel, and then react appropriately. 

"You have the right to be angry, you have the right to be upset, you have the right to have concern," said Black. "Channel that anger, channel that concern into a positive way."

Experts said when the news goes from bad to worse, take inventory. 

"Ask yourself 'how do I impact my community based on the reaction I am having?,'" said Dr. Hunter. "While I think there are those hopeless feelings, I think many of us are turning that hopelessness into fuel, and I think that is really encouraging."

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