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First anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire

Published by: LifeWorks,

Grenfell Wall, remember
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, 14th June 2017. The blaze in a tower block in North Kensington, West London, killed 72 people and left over 70 injured. A public enquiry ordered by the Prime Minister Theresa May is currently underway to establish how the fire happened and to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again.

If you or a loved one was affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, or the anniversary is causing you to experience anxiety or worry, call your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for support and see our guide below for help with coping.

Seek support from others. Talk with people you trust – friends, relatives, colleagues and others. Share your anxieties and concerns with them.

Limit your exposure to news coverage. Too much coverage can heighten your anxiety. If news stories make you anxious, limit yourself to one broadcast a day. Or eliminate watching the news altogether and just read the newspaper. Limit the amount of TV news your child watches as well. You may even want to stop reading newspapers and watching TV news to see if that makes you feel better.

Hide, mute or unfollow upsetting social media feeds. You can often anticipate which TV or radio shows will have disturbing news. But you never know which of your Facebook, Twitter or other social media contacts will post or link to upsetting content. You can avoid some unpleasant surprises by temporarily unfollowing some people or organisations. On Facebook you also can click “hide this post” to avoid seeing a post with unwelcome content every time you log on. On Twitter, you can stop seeing certain people’s posts without unfollowing them by using the “mute” function that’s available to all users.

Avoid watching disturbing TV programmes just before bedtime. If you watch television as a way to unwind, remember that certain kinds of programmes – news coverage, for example, or suspense and action programs – can make it hard to fall asleep. Try tuning in to news earlier in the day – on the way home from work, for example, or early in the evening.

Show your children that you are able to cope during this time. If children see you keeping your fears in perspective and finding positive ways to cope, they’ll learn to do the same. Stress that you are there to help protect and take care of them. Remember to say, “I love you. I’m here to take care of you.” If you think your children might be having a difficult time coping, you can get an individual referral to a mental health professional for them as well.

Avoid using alcohol or illegal drugs to handle your emotions. They provide a temporary escape from unpleasant emotions, but they can also lead to an unhealthy dependence on alcohol or drugs rather than discovering more positive and long lasting ways to cope with difficult emotions. Also, alcohol is a depressant and can lead you to feel even more depressed.

Practice stress-relief techniques that work for you. Taking a walk, exercising, listening to music or reading for pleasure are all ways to relieve stress.

Avoid spending time with people who make you feel anxious. Know which people you find most supportive and spend more of your time with them.

Try not to jump to terrible conclusions. Instead, spend your energy gathering reliable information from people and sources you trust. It’s normal after a traumatic event to feel jumpy and unsettled and to fear the worst. For example, the sight of fire engines in your neighbourhood might leave you feeling overly anxious. Try to remain calm and clear-headed, and remind yourself that the world is basically a safe place.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends or family. Tell them what you need from them. Most people who have gone through a traumatic event need support from others. You don’t have to go through this alone. Eventually you will find you can rise above the traumatic event and bring about something good for yourself and those around you.

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