For at least one clinical nurse practitioner, with a background in psychiatric and mental health nursing, helping people learn to deal with anger and intense emotion is a key beginning to reducing mass violence.
Barbara Warner, 72, who now lives in Hodges, is a co-founder of Nurse Navigators 4 Integrative Healing. She has more than 30 years experience in the mental health field. Warner had a private psychotherapy practice in Atlanta for 20 years before moving to this area, to join the nursing faculty at Clemson University in 2005. She is also an artist.
“Our society has not learned to deal with strong emotions, and especially anger,” Warner said. “Somehow, we have to learn to deal with conflict differently.”
If a young person is “having problems,” Warner said, it’s often a signal of underlying issues within the family unit. “Someone who is acting out may be experiencing bullying, anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. What are the underlying causes and where are we with adults close to the situation?”
Warner said well-being encompasses more than physical health.
“It includes psycho-social health as well,” Warner said. “How do you relate to the people and world around you? I’ve always thought that we need more of a balance between behavioral and physical health. That’s when I started to focus on integrative medicine. I think people are getting away from really connecting and feeling and we need that piece. We need to find a way to foster connection and compassion and we need to find a way for counselors in school to counsel, not just help someone pick the right college.”
Grants and programs in schools could be pieces of that puzzle, Warner said.
Warner said her profession deals a lot with anger.
“It’s often a secondary emotion that we use to protect and defend ourselves, but underneath that emotion can be all sorts of feelings — hurt, rejection, fear,” Warner said. “Find ways to allow kids to have a voice and find out what’s wrong, instead of only punishing those who act out. In-depth therapy doesn’t get used much anymore, but it can be beneficial in giving you tools to cope and heal.”
Warner said exposure to violence in media and games leads to a desensitization to it and adolescents are still growing and developing.
“You’ve got several generations now, exposed to violence, desensitized to it, who may not truly grasp the consequences,” Warner said. “They are in a nation where much of society is angry and polarized. In some ways, it’s kind of a perfect storm for violence like this to happen. How can we as a community address this from different vantage points? These are kids who are at risk.”