Archive for May 2010
The May edition of ATSS’ Trauma Lines Newsletter is out, and we want to hear what you think about it. Share your opinions, offer up some advice or just speak your mind by leaving us a comment (click leave a comment in the upper-left corner, just under the title of this post, see above).
The May edition of Trauma Lines showcased ATSS’ upcoming conference — “Safely in Our Hands: Helping Our Helpers Stay Healthy” — including a preview of one of the presentations, as well as a brief background on two of the conference’s confirmed speakers.
Without giving away too much (in case you haven’t read the newsletter yet), the May newsletter also touches upon several family resources and the latest news surrounding our wounded vets.
So, tell us what you thought about the May edition. What topics would you like to see addressed in future editions? Are you interested in submitting an article of your own?
At its core, Trauma Lines is a newsletter for ATSS members, by the members. Not a member? Click here for more information on becoming a member of the Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists.
We hope you enjoy.
A child’s reaction to trauma is much different than an adult’s, there’s no doubt about that. Yet, “they can experience equally powerful emotions,” writes John Page, senior vice president for Child, Adolescent and Family Services at Centerstone:
[Children] often take in more information than we realize and are acute observers of the world around them, especially of television images and radio messages.
The way children interpret these images and information is quite different from adults. It is important to encourage our children to share their thoughts and feelings and to provide support and reassurance in times like these. Children also react differently to trauma based upon their ages.
How do we care for children after they experience trauma-related stress? Page recommends a few simple strategies:
- Routines: Page expressed the importance of keeping kids on track with their routines. Maintaining the structure of meal and bed times can be very beneficial.
- Finding the positive: Fun needs to remain a focal point for children, even after a stressful, traumatic time. Playing with other children can also help increase child-to-child communication, and can help “them reconnect to reassure them that their friends are safe,” said Page.
- Acts of kindness: Allowing children to volunteer or show acts of kindness, such as donating a toy to a local charity, explains page, “allows children to express empathy and compassion while helping others and exerting control over the tragic experience.”
Signs Your child May Need a Mental Health Professional
Page explains that there are several signs and/or indications that your child may benefit from the assistance of a professional. Children express a number of “typical reactions” to traumatic stress. It’s when these reactions don’t fade or become persistent that, Page advises, parent(s) should consider the help of a mental health professional.
Click here to read more
PTSD isn’t always a result of trauma sustained on the battlefield. For some soldiers, post-traumatic stress has been the result of sexual abuse.
While a catch-all term that encompasses everything from sexual harassment to sexual assault, “Military Sexual Trauma” is a growing concern for the VA.
The VA says more than 48,000 veterans tested positive for Military Sexual Abuse in 2008 alone. However, officials feel as though that number is likely far greater, since, like many victims of sexual abuse, veterans choose to keep their trauma a secret:
“Similar to male veterans, women who have served in the military are quite strong,” says Eve Davison, a clinical psychologist at the VA hospital in Boston.
Many women vets don’t want to talk about sexual trauma. They don’t want to admit it. They don’t want to report it.
What is the VA doing to combat this trauma?
“[The VA] provides free care to any veteran that walks into VA medical centers that screens positive for military sexual trauma,” [Erin Mulhall, a director of research for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group] says. “It’s bolstered training for its mental health professionals on [military sexual trauma] and also provides disability compensation for those that have developed some major health problems due to their trauma.”
Click here for more information on Military Sexual Trauma from VA.gov.
In many instances, police officers are the very first responders to traumatic events. Whether it is traffic accidents or violent crimes, police officers are at the forefront of trauma response, putting their lives on the line every day.
“During the span of a career, police officers are generally exposed to traumatic events more often and more intensely than those in other occupations,” writes John M. Violanti, Rochester Institute of Technology, Department of Criminal Justice.
Unfortunately, too often our officers lose their lives in the line of duty:
Each year, between 140 and 160 officers are killed in the line of duty and their families and co-workers are left to cope with the tragic loss.
To help honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, in 1962 President John F. Kennedy declared May 15 National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. “The calendar week containing May 15 has been designated National Police Week,” explains Terrie Maerritt of LakeExpo.com.
Concerns of Police Survivors, Inc (C.O.P.S.) an organization which “provides resources to assist in the rebuilding of the lives of surviving families and affected co-workers of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty,” hosts an annual conference during Police Week (among many other things) to honor all those affected by the trauma sustained by police officers.
You can support your town’s cops on a local level this week by displaying a blue ribbon.
Many mental disorders have their beginnings in childhood or adolescence. The National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey found that 13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 had at least one mental disorder, a rate that is comparable to diabetes, asthma, and other diseases of childhood.
Given the number of children affected by mental illness and the fact that so many go undiagnosed and not properly treated, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day serves to “promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families”:
Awareness Day raises awareness of effective programs for children’s mental health needs; demonstrates how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities.
While several towns and communities across the country are holding their own events to raise awareness, here’s what we can do every day:
1) Integrate mental health into every environment that impacts child development from birth
2) Nurture the social and emotional well-being of children from birth
3) Look for and discuss milestones of a child’s social and emotional development from birth
Readers: What else can we do to raise awareness for the mental health needs of children?
Since 1949, May has been “Mental Health Month”:
Every day, Americans are affected by the myriad challenges, stresses and demands on their lives. And every day, they seek help in responding to them.
The good news is there are tested and effective tools that are readily available and free that anyone can use to help them cope better and improve their well-being.
Readers: What are some of the ways we can promote mental health and spread awareness this month (and every month) in our homes and communities?