'They'll never forget': Mental health expert says entire UNCC community may experience PTSD

Mental health expert says entire UNCC community may experience PTSD

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You can imagine the thoughts racing through students' minds as they listened to gunshots, hid in barricaded classrooms, or ran to safety.

The students have grown up during a time where they have gone through active shooter drils and are familiar with lockdowns.

Content Continues Below

Dr. Lisa Pennington, a psychologist not affiliated with the school, said she knows several professors and students at UNC Charlotte who said they have experienced anxiety about going back to the campus.

"Those kids were put in a position where they should have never had to be," Pennington said. "I think it's something they'll never forget."


  • Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) -- CAPS will be open to serve students beginning at 8 a.m. The Price Center is located next to the Student Health Center on 9502 Poplar Terrace. After-hours phone counselors are available by calling 704-687-0311.

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) -- Employees who need support should contact the EAP at 1-877-603-8259. Onsite support is available in King 201A and 201B.  Additional information is available on the HR website or by contacting Cindy Edwards at ckedwards@uncc.edu or 704-687-0658.

She said the entire UNCC community may experience post traumatic stree after the most devastating day in school history.

Pennington said it may take weeks, months, or even years for students to heal, especially for those who lived through it.

"Even if they weren't in the room and saw everything that occurred, they felt like their lives were in danger so they can have flashbacks of the event," Pennington said. "It varies, one from what you experienced and exposure to what occurred and the other is how quickly someone can work through the grief."

She said the small group of people will face their own set of challenges such as the potential of "survivor's guilt."

"They feel like is there something they could have done more, is there something they could have done different," Pennington said. "There is only one person that is guilty. There's nothing they could have done to prevent it."

UNCC said it is offering free counseling services to students this week.

Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com: