Children who watch graphic footage of terror attacks can suffers PTSD, medics warn.
GPs have been warned to be on the look-out for children who may have suffered trauma from watching social media coverage of the recent wave of terror attacks.
Family doctors have been warned to look out for signs in children – such as shame, or a loss of self-esteem – which could indicate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Health officials said that it was now a crucial time to spot symptoms among patients who may have been deeply affected by the attacks, including the Manchester bombing.
The NHS officials recommended a period of ‘watchful waiting’ of up to four weeks before offering an intervention ‘to allow time for spontaneous recovery’.
If symptoms are severe and continue for more than a month, a referral to a specialist service may be required, the letter says.
About a fifth of those caught up in traumatic events like the attack at the Ariana Grande concert are expected by the NHS to seek professional psychological help, based on patterns seen after previous atrocities.
Dr Arvind Madan, deputy medical director for NHS England, outlined the symptoms to watch out for in the aftermath of a traumatic event, six weeks on from the Manchester bombings.
Some of these include mood changes, becoming easily startled or agitated and feeling emotionally numb.
Children and young people may start to blame themselves or show lowered self-esteem, the letter says.
It reads: ‘Immediately after a traumatic event, most people affected – including children and young people – will benefit from the general support that comes from families, friends and within local communities.
‘Evidence from similar events tells us people do not benefit from formal psychological therapy during this period, including counselling.’
The letter also warns how people with pre-existing mental illness may be destabilised by traumatic events such as terror attacks that have hit London.
And it thanked practitioners involved in the London and Manchester attacks for their ‘responsiveness and hard work’.
Claire Murdoch, national clinical director for mental health said: ‘We must remember that for those people who were affected by these horrific tragedies, the journey is not over and many will continue to face difficulties.
‘From day one of each of these incidents, staff have been working incredibly hard on making sure that mental health support is available for those who need it.