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Healing Communities

When tragedy occurs, there is an impact on the larger community. In fact, many times there is a global impact - when families, friends and even the general public become part of a grieving community.

Communities can be identified as a geographic or territorial region bounded by a defined perimeter – as in a town or state. They can also be defined by their common identity or interests – such as community groups, professional associations, and faith-based organizations – or by collective relationships that give meaning to an individual's identity – such as professional colleagues, friends, and neighborhoods.

With the increase of mass violence, VOICES created an eBook as a resource for community stakeholders to initiate plans directed at short-term response and long-term recovery. The eBook’s principles focus on how to assist communities in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from acts of mass violence. It was reviewed by the Office for Victims of Crime and is available to download here.

Acts of terrorism, mass violence and natural disasters are occurring at an alarming rate in the US and abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities globally, causing an increase in mental health conditions for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s a pandemic or a terrorist attack, our research findings and longstanding expertise in working with victims’ families, survivors, and responders, indicate a need for consistent long-term support.

Resilience is the capacity to manage adversity and losses, and the ability to adapt to challenges and life-changing events. Sometimes resilience is referred to as being able to bounce back. Resilience includes skills, beliefs and knowledge – all of which can be strengthened and built upon. While we often think of resilience in terms of individual people, a community can also build resilience.

In the aftermath of a traumatic event – an act of violence, social or civil unrest, or domestic terrorism – there can be loss of life, injury, or severe stress. Those impacted are often in shock, suffer from anxiety or fear, and may be uncertain about how to access critical information, mental health resources, and support.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the deadliest global health crisis we have faced in our lifetime. Communities around the world have imposed much-needed restrictions by implementing vaccination programs, masking requirements, quarantines, and social distancing to slow down the spread of the virus.