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Tips to cope with Trauma Recovery post Bills-Bengals Game

by Jenna Cisneros, WKRC - Tuesday, January 3rd 2023

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Damar Hamlin’s collapse took an emotional toll on his teammates, as well as fans watching the game. Millions watching the Bengals/Bills game Monday night were stunned and filled with emotions after witnessing safety Damar Hamlin suffer a cardiac arrest.

It is important to note people can respond differently. The message from mental health professionals: It is okay to not be okay.

Experts say their biggest tip is to open conversation and check in with each other. Even for the players and coaches themselves, it is emotional on both sides, some even unable to watch what was happening.

“You see not just grown men, but football players. The strongest, the fittest, the most able among us, so deeply affected by something and we can’t help but have empathy and be traumatized by the sight of those players circled around and having their own reactions,” Diane Wright said.

Diane Wright with Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services shares these tips to help with trauma recovery:

  • She says talk with others about how you feel

  • Try to stay in routine

  • Remember to eat and stay hydrated

  • Get sleep each night

  • And avoid drugs and alcohol.

“And most of all, staying connected to each other, checking in with each other. If you're feeling rattled, probably your family and friends are too and one of the best things we can do is talk,” Wright said.

“In people's households this may have been very traumatizing in certain ways, very emotionally charged event,” Tracy Cummings, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with Lindner Center of HOPE said. “The child is often going to turn to the guardian in that situation to see how they are responding. So, it is important for those individuals to understand how they feel and how they're handling the situation.”

As for coping with trauma for children who watched this event unfold, Cummings recommends listening and providing an avenue of support. “You want to be as honest as you can. Not minimizing a concern but also not giving false hope,” Cummings said. “Kind of focusing on the helpers in this situation, and not so much the unknown because uncertainty makes us all uncomfortable.”

She adds some kids may have physical symptoms as a response to trauma.

“You know, ‘I don't feel very comfortable today. My stomach hurts or I have a headache.’ A lot of schools went back today. And that may have been hard for some households if they were up watching the game and then not really wanting to leave their family, maybe being a little bit more clingy or didn't sleep as well,” Cummings said. “What would be important is to watch what happens over time. These kinds of feelings and sensations are pretty natural when there's a major event that happens, but if they persist, that's most concerning.”

As everyone is deeply hoping for a positive outcome, experts want to remind people there is no shame in getting help.

“There is nothing wrong, and everything strong about getting support,” Wright said.

If you need support, you can contact the Suicide and National Crisis Lifeline by calling 988.

You can also text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime. Crisis Text Line is here for any crisis.

The NFL Players Association shared this statement on Twitter:

“Our union’s focus remains on the health of our brother, Damar Hamlin. We continue to be in touch with the clubs and NFL to ensure that Bills and Bengals players have every resource available to aid and support them during this time.”

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