Mental Well-being in Times of War and Terrorism

Student Health and Wellness services extends its support to ALL our students who are being impacted by the current violence in Israel and Gaza. We recognize the understandable grief, fear and anger that many of our students may be experiencing right now, especially our students who are Israeli, Palestinian, or have ties to or loved ones in that regions. We encourage all of you to take care of and be compassionate with yourselves and each other. Below are some thoughts about how to protect your mental well-being in times of conflict and terrorism.

Mental Well-being in Times of Conflict and Terrorism*

Common Responses

It is common to have difficulty managing your feelings during times of war, threat of terrorism or traumatic events. Many people will experience symptoms such as:

  • Disbelief, shock, fear and anxiety about the future
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Inability to focus, apathy and emotional numbing
  • Irritability, anger, sadness and depression
  • Feeling powerless
  • Extreme changes in eating patterns, loss of appetite or overeating
  • Crying for “no apparent reason”
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive use of alcohol and drugs

Tips for Coping

  • Talk about it. By talking with others, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings.
  • Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and exercise, avoid excessive drinking and eat properly.
  • Limit exposure to images of the war. Especially avoid television news programs if you are able to.
  • Do something positive. Give blood, prepare “care packages” for people in the military or write letters to service men and women.
  • Ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Talk with a trusted relative, friend or spiritual advisor.

Signs to Seek Help

When feelings do not go away or are so intense that they impair your ability to function in daily life, you may have a diagnosable disorder that requires mental healthcare. There are signs that can help you determine whether you are having a normal reaction to a global crisis or if you are experiencing a mental health problem. These signs include:

  • Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about a traumatic event
  • Being unable to stop thinking about the war or a traumatic event
  • Avoiding thoughts, feelings, places, conversations or people that remind you of a traumatic event
  • Continued difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling jumpy or easily startled
  • Being overly concerned about safety
  • Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may want to talk to a mental health professional. We have many options for students who want to connect with counseling services:

  1. Meet with a counselor for a drop-in session.
  2. Contact our supplemental off-campus provider (BHS) at 518-276-8888. They service RPI students with crisis intervention (24/7/365) and on-going therapy (first 5 sessions free).
  3. Call (518-276-6479) for an appointment at the counseling center (Academy Hall).
  4. Schedule a first-time counseling appointment via the health portal.

*Based on content from BHS and the National Mental Health Association

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