Mental health professionals offer support to students at Bridgewater College

BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) — In the days following Tuesday’s shooting, Bridgewater College connected its students with local mental health professionals.

The school will continue to provide resources in the coming weeks, with classes due to resume on Monday.

Mental health professionals from the Valley Community Services Board have been on campus during the week volunteering their time to help students. They stress the importance of maintaining a routine, taking care of themselves, and not being afraid to ask for help.

“It’s okay to talk to someone, it’s nice that you have to be able to deal with and solve problems and just be able to get them out,” said Janita Daggy, of the Valley Community Services Board.

“I think following a tragedy or trauma there is a tendency to want to avoid thinking or feeling, and not doing it, and sometimes we have to be with another person while we process those feelings, and so I caution people not to avoid,” added Dr. Neal Rittenhouse, Associate Dean of Student Health and Wellbeing and Director of Counseling Services at Bridgewater College.

The volunteers say the students had a number of different emotional reactions in the days following the shooting.

“Some feel shocked, some feel numb, some feel emotional, some have different feelings of just a bit of fear, and some have a bit of a traumatic reaction,” Daggy said.

The students also coped with the tragedy in various ways.

“What we’ve tried to do is normalize that the right way to cry is what feels right to them, and therefore not feel like there’s something they need to do now or later or do at all, that we’re here to help support them in any way that suits them,” Dr. Rittenhouse said.

Bridgewater plans to make resources available to students in their own spaces in the coming weeks.

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