Harrisonburg-Rockingham CSB took the first of several steps to becoming a trauma informed agency.   On September 14, 2016 HRCSB held an agency-wide training on Trauma & Resiliency Basics led by Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson and John Richardson-Lauve.  The training provided a foundation for all staff to gain knowledge regarding trauma and the impacts that it can have on an individual’s well-being (physical, mental and social) across the lifespan as well as introduced the role of resiliency in helping individuals respond to trauma.  We know that approximately 90% of the individuals that seek services from a public behavioral health center have at least one traumatic experience before the age of 18, many experiencing multiple.  Therefore, it is imperative that as an agency we continue to assess, evaluate and adjust our practices, policies and physical space to appropriately engage those who seek our services.

Becoming a trauma-informed agency is more than conducting an agency-wide training. Over the next few months we will continue the process of becoming a trauma-informed agency by training  all new staff in Trauma & Resiliency Basics, strengthening clinical practices, reviewing current processes and policies, reviewing and implementing trauma informed screening  and assessment tools, creating safe environments, and developing community outreach and partnerships to enhance the community’s knowledge of trauma.

It is our hope that the knowledge and skills we learn through this process will then be shared with our community.  As a starting point, one of the key underpinnings of understanding the impact of trauma on an individual and community comes from the research conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente.  The study entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) assessed the associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health issues and was groundbreaking in terms of identifying trauma as a public health issue.  The results indicated that childhood trauma increases the likelihood of adult onset of chronic diseases, depression and other mental health issues. Understanding ACEs and the impact that traumatic experiences can have on an individual can help inform how we as an agency and a community better respond and serve those  we encounter.

If you are interested in learning more about our work towards becoming a trauma informed agency please contact Rebekah Brubaker at rbruba@hrcsb.org.