Damar Hamlin’s punch was shocking. Coping After Witnessing Trauma
They all saw the collision. Collapse. CPR. The ambulance. The shock on the faces of the players.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest Monday night after knocking down Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins and received CPR for about 10 minutes before heading to an ambulance.
Details about what exactly happened remain unavailable. But experts say the trauma lingers for players, gamegoers and viewers watching at home, and they need to process it before it escalates.
“It’s okay to not be okay right now,” he says Lindsay DiStefanohead of the department of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.
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Damar Hamlin incident ‘very challenging’ to watch
- The main conclusion: everything you feel is normal and it is more than okay to ask for help. Even when society encourages radical stoicism, particularly for men.
- “In football culture, we are often taught hypermasculinity and compartmentalizing emotions, and men in particular are socialized to only express things like anger. Not sadness, pain, heartbreak, anxiety, fear. “, He says. kevin chapmanlicensed psychologist and founder and director of the Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders.
- Everyone from soccer players to staff to viewers at home need to process the trauma of what they witnessed.
- “Emotions need to be explicitly discussed, and nothing needs to be compartmentalized or this gets bigger, that’s a given,” says Chapman, who is also a former college football player.
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Seeing someone close to you collapse, in particular, could make anyone nervous. “I had to watch my father receive CPR,” he says Dr. Laxmi Mehta, director of preventive cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “The mental impact of watching someone go into cardiac arrest is very challenging.”
Anyone viewing the game, including those predisposed to anxiety disorders or those who previously experienced similar trauma. Over the next two weeks to a month, consider whether this situation has left you in personal distress and impairs your daily functioning, Chapman says. This is normal but may require professional help.
Social media was flooded with comments from many, including athletes.
Sports and physical and mental health
Situations like Hamlin’s are rare, though football in particular carries all sorts of risks like CTE. Still, sports are as well integrated into the American social fabric as few things are.
“Sports have an incredible opportunity to bring so many benefits to everyone who plays,” says DiStefano. “It’s entertainment, obviously, when it comes to the NFL, but it’s physical activity, which is so important for health. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable, mental health benefits have been shown time and time again with participation in sports. .It’s character-building.”
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But the mental pressure and physical cost come at a price; athletes like Simone Biles have helped shape discussions of mental health in sports. There is an opportunity to build on that now.
“The NFL needs to provide mental health counseling, in groups or individually, not just for the players on the field, but also for other players if they feel they would like that help,” Mehta says.
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Experts hope Higgins in particular gets the care he needs; Chapman worries about possible survivor guilt, wondering if he might have changed differently or taken a different route. “He needs to be surrounded by support right away,” says Chapman. “And he must also be allowed to process events and discuss appraisals, thoughts or cognitions, all synonymous with the same concept, very explicitly with a mental health professional.”
Parents of young children who have seen the game may find it difficult to support them. DiStefano recommends letting children lead the discussion and meeting them where they are.
What to learn from Damar Hamlin’s collapse
- Remember that trauma affects everyone differently. “Some people may respond acutely now and need help and for some people it may not affect them for a while,” Mehta says. “They may not mentally process it until later. We need to recognize the differences in how we respond to these events and how we recover after them.”
- Chapman suggests developing protocols for future incidents of this type, such as “going to the commercial right away, as soon as we see something happen, without talking about the details of the event, as many commenters do. And of course, definitely not retweeting.” “. archive footage. These are all things that can re-traumatize people and give them the impression that they are in real danger at that moment.”
- Perhaps we can better prepare for the inevitable next time. “Unfortunately, any event like this tends to bring people together and realize how short life can be,” Chapman says. “When we have a more preventative approach, rather than an intervention, which is what we’re seeing right now, we can prepare for things like this.”
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez
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