15 Jun 2017

Following the fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, as well as the recent London attacks, we wanted to let people know how they can get help and support and share the advice NHS England has issued about coping with stress following a traumatic event.

Immediately after a traumatic event, it is common for people to feel shocked, or numb, or unable to accept what has happened.

Over several hours or days, the feelings of shock and denial gradually fade, and other thoughts and feelings take their place.

People react differently and take different amounts of time to come to terms with what has happened. Even so, you may be surprised by the strength of your feelings. It is normal to experience a mix of feelings.

Commenting on support for those affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower, Estelle Moore, Head of Psychological Services at West London Mental Health NHS Trust said: “We know that the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower will have touched the lives of many, not just in the immediate area, but across West London.

We are confident that none of our existing patients were resident inside Grenfell Tower, but are mindful of the effect on the mental health of our patients and others who live in the area.

We stand ready to assist our colleagues. We will continue to work closely with the London Fire Brigade and local authority colleagues to make sure that we provide whatever support we can to those affected.

If you live in the community and feel that you need some extra help or support, you should speak to your GP (family doctor). Your GP might suggest that you talk with someone from our service who specialises in helping people cope with traumas. If you are already receiving our support or live in the boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham or Hounslow, you can contact our 24/7 Helpline (single point of access) for support and advice on 0300 1234 244.”

When to get help

Family and friends will probably be able to help you through this difficult time. Many people find that the feelings that they experience after a traumatic event gradually reduce after about a month. However, you may need to see a professional if your feelings are too much for you, or go on for too long.

You should probably ask your GP for help if:

  • you have no one to share your feelings with
  • you can’t handle your feelings and feel overwhelmed by sadness, anxiety, or
    nervousness
  • you feel that you are not returning to normal after six weeks
  • you have nightmares and cannot sleep
  • you are getting on badly with those close to you
  • you stay away from other people more and more
  • your work is suffering
  • those around you suggest you seek help
  • you have accidents
  • you are drinking or smoking too much, or using drugs to cope with your feelings.

Download ‘Coping with stress following a major incident’ information leaflet

Getting help

If you feel that you need some extra help or support, you should speak to your GP (family doctor) Your GP might suggest that you talk with someone from our service who specialises in helping people cope with traumas. They will usually use a talking treatment, such as counselling or psychotherapy. For example, a talking treatment called cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to be helpful.

24/7 Helpline

If you already use WLMHT services or live in the boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham or Hounslow, you can contact our 24/7 Helpline (single point of access) for support and advice on 0300 1234 244.

Other sources of support

UK Trauma Group has links to a selection of materials which helpful information for the general public and for health professionals about Post Traumatic Stress Reactions.

Supporting children after a frightening event: A leaflet that helps adults to understand how children and young people might react to traumatic events.

If you live in North West London (including Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster) you can find information about support available on the CNWL website.

Police Casualty Bureau

The Metropolitan Police has established an emergency number for members of the public to use if they are concerned about a loved one. The Casualty Bureau number is 0800 0961 233.

Giving to charities

It’s natural to want to help and offer assistance following a tragic event. The Gov.uk website has advice on how you can help and give safely to registered charities.