EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — There’s joy among the people returning to East Palestine, but some also have concerns. Mental health experts say it’s OK to feel that way. They shared with us some ideas to cope with any stress you may have.

Even as people return to East Palestine, mental health experts say it’s OK to like things are still far from normal.

Many posts on social media from residents near where the derailment happened have expressed anxiety and distress at the thought of being back. Some are posting that they even dislike the sound of the train whistles.

Ryan Goettsch, a clinical social worker, says those feelings of stress and anxiety are to be expected.

“Any time we experience a stressful event, it can kind of leave an imprint, and it takes time to kind of re-process.”

Those feelings can manifest as anxiety and panic attacks, and it’s normal to re-live the trauma if something reminds you of it.

President of the Columbiana County Mental Health Board Marcy Patton says she’s already seeing these effects across the county.

“We’ve heard of kids who are having nightmares. A lot of the first responders, of course, are dealing with the effects of being involved with this very dangerous situation,” Patton says.

She suggests reaching out to family, friends and social groups for support and encourages loved ones to give those traumatized some grace.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s just so important,” Patton says.

She notes the anxiety and stress might not hit you for a week or two — but that’s normal, too.

“People might want to seek treatment if they’re having persistent symptoms more than up to a month after the event — definitely sooner, if you need it,” Goettsch says.

Those struggling can contact the following numbers for help:

  • Columbiana Co. Mental Health Board: 330-424-0195
  • General information: 211
  • Village-recommended line: 330-846-1797 

If you need immediate assistance or feel suicidal, please call 988.