Merriam-Webster defines trauma as “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” This state can develop as a result of a wide range of stressors including abuse, witnessing violence, experiencing homelessness or being affected by a natural disaster. A large percentage of the people we see in our crisis center have had trauma-inducing experiences at some point in their life. The same is true for other providers of behavioral health services. This trauma often contributes to the development of mental illness and co-occurring conditions like chronic health issues, eating disorders and substance abuse, as well as contact with the criminal justice system.
Symptoms of Trauma
People who experience trauma may exhibit a number of symptoms. These signs can occur immediately after the experience or may not surface until a later time, and include:
- Fear and anxiety
- Self-blame or guilt
- Withdrawal from people and activities
- Loss of memories
- Inability to relax
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Confusion and disorientation
- Feeling emotionally numb or unable to relate to others
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an approach in which an organization like our crisis center ensures that all staff members understand the impact that trauma can have on a person’s mental and emotional health. Team members also learn about triggers that can cause the person additional stress and how to avoid them and prevent new trauma.
Behavioral health organizations trained in delivering TIC exhibit certain characteristics, including that they:
- Respect the need of survivors to be well-informed about their treatment and hopeful about their recovery
- Educate all staff members, from care providers to business staff and leadership, on the effects of trauma so that a culture of compassion is developed and maintained
- Have a deep understanding of the many ways that trauma can manifest in a survivor (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc.)
- Recognize the importance of collaborating with survivors, their loved ones and other human services agencies to support recovery
- Work continually to destigmatize mental illness
How to Respond to Trauma
If you have experienced trauma, there are certain steps you should take to address it and lessen its impact on your mental and emotional health. First, if the trauma-inducing issue is ongoing, you should attempt to remedy it if possible. Next, you should talk about the trauma with a trusted friend or loved one. Simply expressing your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful. It is also important that you take care of your physical health while working to overcome trauma, including avoiding the use of substances as a coping mechanism.
Finally, please take advantage of resources like Community Reach Center. Remember our Colorado Crisis Services line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) for immediate needs. We have a 24-hour walk-in center in Westminster at 2551 W. 84th Ave. and there are several other centers in the Denver metro area. As a highly respected crisis center in the Denver metro area, we use Trauma-Informed Care to help people take a proactive approach to their mental health challenges. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.