‘Please give yourself grace:’ Mental health expert discusses impacts of active shooter hoax

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:42 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Parents and loved ones ran to their children Wednesday morning hoping they were not in danger.

“He had texted me earlier this morning, he said, ‘mom, we’re all barricaded in our room, we’re having a lockdown. They’re saying there’s an active shooter,’” said mother Amber Schmeidler.

A fake report of a school shooting caused chaos, triggering a large law enforcement response until there was an all-clear.

This doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident though, experts say it’s happening across the nation.

“The calls seem to be coming from the same source or similar source. They seem to be very coordinated,” said Mo Canady, a former school resource officer and SRO supervisor.

This trend is something mental health expert and licensed social worker Phylicia Anderson says should be taken just as seriously as if it were real.

“Individually and as a community, don’t dismiss the impacts of what this event has caused to so many,” said Anderson.

And experts say first responders, school resource officers, who tend to be the closest in the moment, need to have a similar approach

“Law enforcement agencies have to respond to that as if it’s happening.”

Anderson is also the director of a mental health program that supports Savannah High. She says parents, students, staff will need the support.

“Try to get to a calm space because our bodies probably went into fight or flight mode.”

With all the videos and social media posts that have been going around all day, she says adults should make sure students aren’t overwhelming themselves.

It’s ok to take a break.

“Please give yourself grace and others around you if they are experiencing some of these troubling emotions.”

Anderson gave a few tips for how people involved can cope includes taking a break from social media.

For students who need help but don’t want to say it, she says tell them to identify someone they trust.

She also highlighted resources available to anyone dealing with trauma from this incident such as the Gateway Community Service Board, Front Porch, and the 988 hotline.