Trauma and distress contribute to serious mental health issues and can result from several events. 

From sexual assault to racism and bias to harassment, these events are not limited to our personal lives. The introduction of trauma-informed workplaces and schools is helping reduce these events and the impact they have on our mental well-being. 

In the Workplace

Organizations have a responsibility to support employees during periods of trauma caused by their work environment. 

When someone experiences trauma, they look to management and the organization itself to offer support and protection. When this doesn’t happen, it can lead to an “institutional betrayal” that causes further harm.

Six Trauma-Informed Guiding Principles

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are six guiding trauma-informed principles:

  1. Safety
  2. Trustworthiness and transparency
  3. Peer support
  4. Collaboration and mutuality
  5. Empowerment, voice, and choice
  6. Cultural, historical, and gender issues

How to Create Trauma-informed Workplaces

To create a trauma-informed workplace, the following methods support the CDC’s guiding principles:

  • Acknowledgment: Listening to employees and acknowledging their pain in a manner that makes it clear they are genuinely being heard can help them feel supported. The workplace must avoid denying the experience was as difficult as the employee feels it was or distracting from their suffering by trying to compare it to something dissimilar.
  • Support: Having services in place such as mental health resources and financial assistance, demonstrates a commitment to protect and support the employee during their time of need. Ongoing communication confirms support is available.

Trust: Written procedures demonstrate a formal commitment to trauma-informed policies. Ensuring those policies are shared and practiced requires training and value statements to create a culture of trust. All employees should know they have specific avenues to follow in a trauma situation that is completely transparent and, more importantly, consistent for everyone and every situation.

Trauma-Informed Schools

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has confirmed the importance of professional development to address trauma in schools. 

Adverse childhood experiences have an impact on academic performance. Therefore, schools must prioritize mental wellbeing and health to help children reach their full potential.

The 4 Rs

The NCTSN recommends the “4 Rs” to create a trauma-informed system:

    1. Realize: This acknowledges the possible effects of trauma and avoids judgment of student behaviors. Instead, it views behavior as a form of communication.
    2. Recognize: Seeing the signs and symptoms of trauma allows educators to support and provide a safe place for children.
    3. Respond: Knowing how to respond with a “Supportive Stance℠” assists individuals in crisis.
    4. Resist: Educators must learn to recognize and resist common triggers that cause re-traumatization.

How to Create Trauma-informed Schools

The NCTSN’s evidence-based guidelines help schools create and sustain a trauma-informed culture using a tiered approach based on collaboration and safety. This approach acknowledges the potential of harm and introduces support for prevention and early intervention.

A trauma-informed approach helps workplaces and schools establish safe environments to prevent trauma, acknowledge traumatic events, and have effective interventions and supports in place.

About Samaritan Counseling Center

Our Vision: Samaritan Counseling Center’s vision is to empower communities, families, and individuals in their journey to live the best version of themselves.

Our Mission: Samaritan engages all people as they are – mentally, spiritually, financially – offering evidence-based psychological care for hope, help, and healing.

Our Values: Teamwork, Client Satisfaction, Clinical Excellence, Community Engagement, Inclusiveness, Gratitude

Samaritan is accredited by The Solihten Institute.

For more information, contact us today, and click here to make a donation. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.