Newswise — In the aftermath of the February shooting at a Florida high school, students have turned to activism and recently coordinated over 800 "March for Our Lives" rallies in major cities around the world, including at the U.S. Capitol. 

"Victims of violence who engage in coping strategies that involve active attempts to manage their stressors tend to have better mental health outcomes," says Dr. Heidi Zinzow, Associate Professor of Psychology at Clemson University.

"Activism could be an empowering and effective coping strategy for many people affected by violence. Although a common set of outcomes related to trauma exposure involves psychological distress and mental health symptoms, other potential trajectories involve resilience and posttraumatic growth," Zinzow says.

"Posttraumatic growth can include the development of more meaningful relationships, a sense of increased personal strength, an increased appreciation for life, and recognition of new life possibilities and pathways (see Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). It is possible that for some people, activism could be related to this process of posttraumatic growth," says Zinzow.

Dr. Heidi Zinzow is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She has authored over 40 scientific publications on trauma and mental health, and has been awarded several federally-funded grants to investigate violence prevention and intervention programs. Currently, she is a member of the Clemson University Sexual Violence Advisory Board, Clemson University suicide prevention coalition, Title IX Hearing Board, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Dr. Zinzow teaches in the areas of psychotherapy, clinical psychology, and abnormal psychology.