Sad teen

In September 2017, Hurricane Harvey closed schools in Texas for weeks. It stranded some families in their homes and forced others to evacuate, unsure if or when they would be able to return.

Simpson: “Not only did the hurricane throw off our daily lives, it also created this storm of uncertainty around everyone.”

Shelly Simpson is a social worker who counsels young adults at Houston’s Menninger Clinic. She says natural disasters can be particularly hard on young people.

Simpson: “The way they think about these things are a little bit different than, say, someone who is in their forties. They are much more emotion-driven.”

She says it’s normal for children and teens to struggle with painful emotions after a disaster. And as these events become more common with climate change, more young people may need counseling.

Simpson: “There’s no wrong feeling to have to one of these events. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re sad, be sad. But just don’t do it alone. Talk to someone, get some help.”

She says parents and teachers can also help young people by validating their feelings.

Simpson: “It can be really helpful to say, like, ‘It makes a lot of sense that you’re feeling that way. This was a really scary thing that happened.'”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

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