BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Following Thursday’s court appearance by Payton Gendron and Wednesday’s sentencing — mental health advocates say people affected by the Tops mass shooting could be re-traumatized.
But, there are resources that are available.
Experts at Best Self Behavioral Health, has been helping people cope with the trauma they experienced after the mass shooting.
Wednesday’s sentencing could be re-traumatizing for many people directly impacted by the mass shooting, including those who were injured and families of the deceased.
“Of course grief, but a lot it relates to trauma as well as anger, I think people are really angry and we don’t know how to express it a lot of the times,” said Dymone Barnwell, assistant program director of Best Self’s Black Mental Health Response Team.
Because of that, Best Self had several locations throughout the courthouse to offer support to those who needed it. There was also an after court respite for people who needed support in the community.
Since the Tops mass shooting, Best Self launched its Black Mental Health Response Team to provide support to people affected by the shooting. That response team has between 20 and 30 members made up of clinicians, spiritual leaders and case managers.
“Validating their feelings because no emotion is wrong, you have all rights to feel what you feel it’s just about how we handle our emotions and how we express them, so we teach our clients breathing skills, we teach them regular coping skills, what are activities that you enjoy just trying to find what can bring you even just a slight amount of happiness or peace,” Barnwell said.
Best Self has outreach teams that have been going out into the community to meet with people one-on-one. Best Self says it has served thousands of people in the community since the mass shooting and have been trying to address the stigma of mental health treatment.
Best Self has been working with Erie County, the Resource Council of Western New York, and Tops to provide services to the community. The agency has created a mental health response fund, which supports some of Best Self’s services.
Best Self has locations in Buffalo, Amherst and in the Southtowns.
Every Wednesday there are peer groups at Best Self’s Mt. Aaron location on Genesee Street from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; and on Saturdays in March from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. this Saturday at Mt. Aaron. Best Self’s intake line is: 716-884-0888.
Crisis Services also has resources for those who are coping with issues such as anxiety and depression. More information can be found here. You can call 716-834-3131 for assistance.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.