Mental health professionals to offer support session for tornado survivors

Four months after a devastating tornado blew through Fenton, Sunset Hills and Crestwood, a free South County Tornado Recovery Community Support Session is being offered to bring survivors together and help them talk through their experiences as they begin to rebuild their lives.

This free recovery support session will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Monday, May 23, at the Lindbergh Schools Administration Building, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

Volunteer mental health professionals will facilitate a discussion about what happened during the tornado on Dec. 31, and ways survivors can develop resilience to aid them and their families in resuming a normal life path. They will also address psychological symptoms that may have arisen from this catastrophe, according to a news release.

In addition, a firefighter from the Fenton Fire Department will be on hand to discuss the events as he experienced them that day.

While this session is not intended to provide psychological treatment, community resources will be discussed and there will be information available for those who have further questions.

“One of our goals is to create a community of survivors, so people know they are not alone,” stated Larry Kiel, Ph.D. “Your story is valuable to us, and we want to create an environment where community members can share their stories of resilience with each other.”

Events such as the New Year’s Eve tornado can cause delayed symptoms that appear months, even years later, such as insomnia, flashbacks, difficulty focusing, depression, anxiety (even over unrelated issues), social isolation (pulling away from your network of friends, family and activities), irritability, confusion, panic attacks and a sense vulnerability about the future, the release stated.

The group is open to adults age 16 and older, but possible topics will also include how to help children who lived through the experience as well.