Mental Health: Redirecting from Law Enforcement to Social Programs… A Trauma Informed Response that saves lives… Quote from this link…
“CAHOOTS was formed in 1989 as a collaborative project of White Bird Clinic and the city of Eugene public safety system to help address the needs of marginalized and alienated populations, specifically the homeless and those suffering from addiction or severe and persistent mental illness. Each team consists of a certified medic and a trained mental health crisis worker.”
I was honored to represent the City of Depoe Bay at the 90th Annual League of Oregon Cities Conference in Bend, Oregon. This was one of the most robust learning opportunities for me since being elected City Councilor, Depoe Bay, Oregon. The focus of the conference was to show elected and non-elected officials from city government how to use resources effectively to build a 21st Century sustainable community. I write about the entire conference in in separate report in a pdf format with rich hyperlink references, which can be requested from www.cityofdepoebay.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of the discussion during the Mental Health concurrent session referenced in this link, was about the need for “Trauma Informed Care” and different levels of response so that we are NOT sending citizens with mental health challenges directly to jail, and potentially making matters much worse. We are learning that there are essentially three levels of care evolving, and these include: 1. Education and Mental Health 1st Aid. 2. The “Cahoots” model in Eugene, Oregon, to help address the needs of marginalized and alienated populations. 3. Finally, the 911 Public Safety Emergency response, where it is apparent that lives are in danger. The three levels work collaboratively and successfully in many communities right now.
Check out this excellent reference link with a powerful video clip…What is “Trauma Informed Care?”
“In my experience, plus the 30 years my colleagues have worked in public schools, we have learned that student misbehavior and “acting out” are often indicators of trauma. Poverty, sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental drug use, incarceration, or mental illness are just some of the issues that contribute to traumatic experiences that have a profound impact on a child’s developing brain and body. Through our team’s professional experiences, and research supports our findings, we have found that children living in poor neighborhoods are more likely to suffer traumatic incidents, such as witnessing or being the victims of violence. They also struggle with pernicious daily stressors, including food or housing insecurity, living in overcrowded households with overworked or underemployed, and stressed-out parents.”
From my own experience as a trauma survivor, non-fiction author and blogger related to post trauma recovery, it is the early life of children during the years up to age 6, when we can have the most impact in helping the fabric of our society heal and mitigate the painful symptoms and damage of the effects of severe trauma, including life long mental health implications. But we must stop the stigma of mental health…“Mental Health and Stigma” by Graham C. L. Davey, PhD. The consequences of long term stigma and lack of awareness in our culture is life threatening and terribly dangerous as we have observed too many times over the years, including last week in Roseburg, Oregon when 9 innocent students and educators were killed at Umpqua Community College. Many others sustained severe injuries, and will no doubt suffer from post traumatic stress and need extended treatment to recover.
As a society we continue to be at risk at 1000’s of soft targets, including schools, movie theaters, open spaces, and in toxic homes, where mentally challenged and potentially dangerous citizens will hurt or kill innocent people. We can change this pattern going forward and some progress is apparent; but we must be more vigilant, compassionate, and empathetic as a society. We must talk about mental health in our schools, institutions of learning, and public places. We must be aggressive in teaching others mental health 1st aid, and trauma informed care. If we don’t become more serious and have the will to mitigate and treat the symptoms of mental health behaviors early, we stand by and wait for the next mass shooting or tragedy. Mental Health: “Can’t we do better?” I know we can!
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2. click the highlighted text for my author page…