Trauma Awareness

Young woman, perhaps a victim of trauma, sits in reflection with her chin resting in her hands clasped while she stairs ahead. - 7/11/2019

It may seem like a no-brainer to some, but not everyone realizes that mental health  and trauma are closely related. You may have heard someone say "oh, in time he or she will get over it" when referring to a traumatic experience. The truth is, without treatment, someone may never "get over it." 

Effective mental health treatment for things like depression, anxiety or addiction requires that we look at the whole person to determine the root cause or the real cause of those challenges. 

Trauma can surface in a few forms, such as emotional, physical, or mental. Regardless of its form, trauma stems from an event or circumstance that caused a person to respond with intense fear and helplessness. Everyone is different, therefore, our responses also are different. Many people who have suffered trauma in childhood show signs of difficulty well into adulthood and that’s normal. A good recovery plan that's individualize to meet that person's circumstance can help them recover and move on with their lives. The conversation can begin with a primary care provider, a family member or a close friend.

Behavioral health providers such as Lakeview Center use evidence-based practices, and treatment plans that include both medications and counseling.  A Trauma-Informed Care  (TIC) approach is at the forefront of best practices. 

TIC emphasizes six key principles that can be applied in any setting: 

1. Safety 

2. Trustworthiness and transparency 

3. Peer support 

4. Collaboration and mutuality 

5. Empowerment, voice and choice 

6. Cultural, historical, and gender issues

The last thing you want is for a person to be re-traumatized when asking for help. Instead, people should experience safety, choice and empowerment.

Northwest Florida is moving toward becoming a Trauma-Informed Care community. For instance other partners who embrace the practice  include local law enforcement, emergency responders, the juvenile justice system, faith-based organizations, the school system and others. They support community education and serve as role models to encourage others' participation. If you or someone you know needs help recovering from a behavioral health issue, call 850.469.3500. 

Keep these tips in mind if you encounter someone who is coping with trauma or a behavioral health issue:

• Think before you speak. Avoid saying: “What’s wrong with you?’ Instead, say: “What happened to you?”

• Use language that is respectful, courteous and compassionate. (i.e. May I?, please, I understand.)

• Never judge anyone. We all react differently to trauma.

• Treat every person with respect and dignity.