Trauma Informed Care and School Mental Health

“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.” – Haim Ginott

There are many different types of trauma experienced by children. A study done examining Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) identified ten different traumatic experiences and created a simple assessment to determine the number of ACEs a person has. The more ACEs an individual has the higher the risk of long lasting negative outcomes such as chronic disease and mental illness.

Anyone working with children must not only be trauma informed by trauma driven in their approach. Adults must be able to identify, understand and respond to the different types of trauma. Exposure to traumatic events can impact a child’s ability to cope. In addition, the child’s reading ability, GPA, school completion, attendance, and disciplinary responses differ greatly from children who have not experienced trauma and lead to poor outcomes for them as adults.

Often, educators and other caregivers must change the way they would normally respond to these students so as not to re-traumatize students. Traditional educational interventions are not effective. Educators must re-think discipline policies, professional development, and the overall climate and culture in their building. Empathy, acknowledgment, relationship development, structure, consistency and predictability, and other resilience practices are paramount for creating learning, living and leisure environments.