April 2017 Mental Health

April 2017 RISC Mental Health Update

 

Childhood trauma has a devastating impact on our community.  At our Justice Rally we heard from a friend, a parent, and a teacher who have each seen the painful impacts of trauma.

Trauma impacts thousands of children in our region, and a wider range of children than we might think. What is trauma? - Abuse, neglect, witnessing community violence, living in poverty, or living with someone who has a mental illness or substance abuse problem. Divorce, death of a parent, being judged unfairly due to race, and bullying can also be traumatic. Studies have shown that these experiences create dangerous levels of stress and disrupt brain development—resulting in long-term impacts on learning, behavior, and mental health.

We are worried for our children. Many children who have these experiences end up getting into trouble at school, attempting suicide, or needing mental health treatment.

These terrible results are preventable! Our mental health committee met with experts who shared that best practices exist for proactively responding to trauma, but the adults closest to traumatized children don’t have the right tools to respond. So, instead of preventing trauma from spiraling into mental illness and violence, school staff, family members, and caregivers can react in ways that cause children to relive the trauma – over and over again. The solution is clear – get the best practices for trauma response into the hands of people closest to traumatized children!

When looking at the areas of our community where the potential for trauma is increasing and proven tools are desperately needed, Chesterfield County stood out. Chesterfield had 155 cases of child abuse last year. 1 in 12 children live in poverty – while 1 in 5 Latino children live in poverty. As we begin to reach out to Chesterfield County agencies, we will seek evidence-based training to address the impacts of childhood trauma – and envision a future where the entire community is ready to respond.

 At the Nehemiah Action, on May 1st at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, we will share our progress and invite public officials from Chesterfield County to address this serious problem and work toward a proven solution. We can prevent the mental illness and behavior problems that result from traumatic stress!

 

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