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Trauma & Response to a Disaster or Traumatic Event

Tips for College Students: After a Disaster or Other Trauma

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Students often experience stress. When an event is very stressful, and involves serious injury or is potentially life threatening and creates feelings of helplessness and horror, this may be a traumatic event. There is no right way to feel after an accident or disaster or potential disaster. Many people experience difficult emotions, changes in behavior, relationships or physical symptoms after a traumatic event, but with time and support they are able to feel better.

Common Reactions and Coping Strategies

Common reactions may include:

  • feeling sad, depressed, irritable, numb, like you have too much energy, or all of these at different times
  • stress related physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
  • having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • changes to thoughts or behavior patterns such as negative thoughts about ourselves or others, memory problems, or avoiding things
  • sensitivity to environmental factors such as loud noises
  • strained interpersonal relationships

Some coping strategies include:

  • try to keep your eating and sleeping schedules as regular as possible
  • talk about it; communicate your experience as you are comfortable
  • take care of yourself: listen to music, exercise, drink water, and rest
  • give yourself time to adjust
  • ask for support from people who care about you
  • breathe, walk, do yoga or find other ways to calm yourself
  • help others in ways that support your own healing; write thank-yous, volunteer, give financially, offer expertise, etc.

Get more information: Online/Print Resources

Get Help

If you or a friend are experiencing distress, get help now:

Make an appointment with Counseling Services
Call the 24 hour Crisis Line of Hawai╩╗i: 1-808-753-6879
Text "Aloha" to the 24 hour Crisis Text Line: 741-741

24 Hour National Disaster Distress Helplines

Call: 1-800-985-5990
Text "TalkWithUs" just like that to: 66746
Disaster Distress Helpline Website


Ulifeline Online resource for college mental health
ULifeline is an online resource for college mental health

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Counseling Services are free and confidential for all UH Hilo students. We welcome questions, comments and feedback about our website at uhhcouns@hawaii.edu.