Stress, crisis and trauma

All people have a different capability to cope with and regulate events that overwhelm us.  Think of the wide range of expression of emotions you’ve already witnessed during the COVID-19 epidemic. Stress of all kinds can create a self-defined crisis that invokes reactions like anxiety, depression, isolation and exhaustion. However, not all stressful or crisis events are traumas.

One way in which a trauma differs is the continued impact on a person’s ability to self-regulate and the symptoms that they experience such as flashbacks, hypervigilance and feelings of detachment.

By clinical terms, a trauma is any event in which a person experienced a threat to their life, serious injury or significant violence. Initial reactions to traumas are much the same as to a stressful or crisis event.

COVID-19 impact

The coming of the COVID-19 surely raises the types of stressors that contribute to trauma. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) notes that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs

Don’t hesitate, take quick action

If you or someone you know is feeling great stress due to COVID-19, whether you would consider it a “crisis” or something lesser, remember Community Reach Center operates the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center at 2551 W. 84th Ave. in Westminster. It is open 24/7.

The BHUC team is comprised of trained mental health professionals available 24/7 to help individuals of all ages who are experiencing: thoughts of suicide, depression, overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, feelings of harming oneself or someone else, an increase in drug and alcohol use and family crises.

People may also call 1-844-493-TALK (8255), or text TALK to 38255 to speak with a trained professional at Colorado Crisis Services.

At home, show you care

There is an old expression that charity begins at home. One way to interpret the saying is to care for your family first. Take care of those close to you. Help them cope with stress and from there branch out and look for opportunities to make your community stronger.

That means just tuning into what those around you need, whether it involves cooking for them, taking over some chores, or facilitating conversation with others over the phone or social media. Encourage others to unwind and perhaps not watch news all day long.

Just do your best. Simple. And keep in mind this comforting note in the Mental Health First Aid USA manual which reads “When talking to a person who has experienced a traumatic event, it is more important to be genuinely caring than to say the right things.” Like so many other activities, Mental Health First Aid courses have been canceled due to social distancing practices, but please watch for these opportunities later in the year to take a free class and learn more about all aspects of mental health.

Recognize resilience and prevention

Most people have various levels of resilience on their sides. Young people face many challenges when going through their teens, but they tend to have good resilience to bounce back as they are growing and developing.

Further, there are ways to increase resilience through positive thinking and positive self-talk. Just as training the physical body to be stronger helps to prepare for life’s eventualities, there are ways to become more mentally fit for all the challenges life brings our way.

Want to learn more?

A special webcast presentation titled “Understanding the Impacts of Trauma on Wellness” by Community Reach Center Clinical Senior Manager Jaime Brewer, MA, LPC, will be April 23.

Brewer has worked in the behavioral health field since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado College and her master’s degree in International Disaster Psychology from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. She is also a board member and secretary for the Crisis Residential Association.

Her presentation will cover the types of trauma – “without going too deep,” she notes – and how trauma affects the brain. She will also give special emphasis on techniques to gain resilience. To register for her 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, April 23, webcast, please go to the following Eventbrite link and click on register.

Here for you

It is vitally important for people experiencing mental health conditions and their loved ones to know mental illness is treatable. Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. And to learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please call the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.