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SOCIAL WORKERS OFFER TIPS FOR ANDREW'S VICTIMS: COPING WITH EMOTIONAL STRESS, ALSO WHAT TO TELL THE CHILDREN

 SOCIAL WORKERS OFFER TIPS FOR ANDREW'S VICTIMS:
 COPING WITH EMOTIONAL STRESS, ALSO WHAT TO TELL THE CHILDREN
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire/ Now that tents are up and food and water are meeting immediate physical needs, South Florida residents will likely face post traumatic stress, warn experts at the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
 How to cope with these feelings and children's fears is the subject of "Tips for Families," a tip-sheet social workers are distributing to Andrew victims.
 Post traumatic stress, or PTS, is a normal and natural response to an unnatural event.
 "It isn't anything to be ashamed of," said Jim Brennan, NASW senior staff specialist of PTS. "There are some things that are so beyond our ability to comprehend outside the normal realm of human experience, that reaction is to be expected." The death of a family member, wars, childhood sexual abuse, are all examples of events which can cause PTS.
 "Tips for Families" is available in English, Spanish, French and Creole. It is being distributed by social workers and other mental health professionals working in South Florida and Louisiana.
 Because caregivers are dealing with so many demands at the same time, post traumatic stress increases the danger of child abuse, spouse abuse, elder abuse and substance abuse. But PTS is a danger only if sufferers deny its symptoms and fail to get help.
 Here are some suggestions for dealing with stress:
 -- Try to establish a routine for your family life. Regular bed times and wake up times, regular breaks and shared meals -- all these can help you and your children feel more secure.
 -- Set aside time just for family. With all the activity going on around you and people coming and going, it is important to find time to be together with a lot of distractions. As tough as it may be, try to find a little time each day for yourself and time alone with your spouse or partner. Those times can help you find the energy you need for the rest of the day.
 -- Be sure that all family members are included in making plans. Talk to your children and spouse or partner about your options and your decisions. Listen to what they have to say and try to respond to their concerns.
 -- Avoid physical punishment of children, including spanking or slapping. With all the pressure, tempers flare and it's easy to go too far.
 -- Reassure your children about the future. Let them know you have been frightened and uncertain too, but that you are working things out and life will eventually return to normal.
 -- Some families are sending their children to stay with family members or close friends outside the hurricane area until homes can be repaired or rebuilt and schools can open. If you choose to do this, make sure your children understand they are not being punished and that the move is temporary. Try to visit and call them often so they don't feel so cut off from you. Try not to separate brothers and sisters. They are each others' support.
 -- Trust your instincts. You have done well to make it this far, you can make it the rest of the way.
 -- Don't be afraid to ask for help. No one can deal with the problems caused by the hurricane on his or her own. Help is available through the Red Cross Centers for both physical and emotional care.
 Normal Reactions to Stress:
 -- headaches, stomach aches, or nausea and other physical
 complaints
 -- nightmares
 -- hyper-alertness and startle responses
 -- trouble going to sleep or staying asleep
 -- trouble concentrating, forgetfulness
 -- irritability, aggressive behavior
 -- mood swings or outbursts of crying.
 -- withdrawal and feeling isolated
 In children, reactions may include:
 -- fears about weather safety
 -- increased clinging to parents
 -- a return to outgrown behavior such as bed wetting or thumb
 sucking
 -- fears of being left alone with strangers
 -- changes in the way a child plays, such as repeating the same
 game over and over, hitting playmates, or breaking toys
 If you feel as though you or your children are showing the signs of stress to an extreme, seek help from Red Cross mental health teams or call:
 Switchboard 305-358-4357
 or
 Greater Miami Jewish Federation
 305-576-7401, -7402, -7405, or -7406
 The National Association of Social Workers is the world's largest organization of professional social workers with 145,000 members in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Social Workers provide more than half of this nation's mental health counseling. NASW is a non-profit organization.
 -0- 9/8/92
 /NOTE: Experts are available for interviews./
 /CONTACT: Lucy Sanchez, 202-336-8236 or, after hours, 202-332-2499, or Jan Peterson, 202-336-8241 or, after hours, 202-244-0485, both of the National Association of Social Workers/ CO: National Association of Social Workers ST: Florida IN: HEA SU:


DS -- DC036 -- 6805 09/08/92 08:07 EDT
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 8, 1992
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