Young woman speaking to a mental health professional.

The Advantages of Trauma-Informed Care for Young Adults

Young adults continue to struggle with mental health conditions every day, and one of the driving factors of these issues stems from experiencing a traumatic event.

This is why the push for a trauma-informed care approach is becoming increasingly popular in the mental health industry. In this blog, we will discuss trauma, and how trauma-informed care can benefit young adults.

Understanding Trauma & Its Impact

Before we discuss what trauma-informed care is, it’s important to have an understanding of trauma and its prevalence in the young adult community.

The definition of trauma is when an individual becomes overwhelmed by events or circumstances and responds with intense fear, horror, and helplessness. The extreme stress that follows the event or circumstance makes it difficult for the individual to cope.

This does not only negatively affect their mental health, but their physical health as well. Trauma is known to have a direct correlation to physical conditions such as diabetes, heart, lung, and kidney disease, cancer, stroke, suicide, and accidental overdose.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the suicide prevention and crisis hotline, call us at 610-480-8919, or seek medical help at your local emergency room immediately.

There are many factors or circumstances from which trauma stems, some of these including:

  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Accidents and natural disasters
  • Grief and loss
  • Witnessing acts of violence
  • Cultural, intergenerational, and historical trauma
  • War and other forms of violence

Similarly to other mental health conditions, trauma is more common than many people realize. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 51% of women and 61% of men have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. In addition, 2 out of 3 children reported experiencing at least one traumatic event by the age of 16.

These statistics put mental trauma at the top of the list of common mental health disorders, along with anxiety and depression. As a result, mental health organizations and professionals have begun using a treatment approach known as trauma-informed care.

Mental health professional holding the hand of a patient.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

The main purpose of trauma-informed care is to provide long-term healing to individuals. To do this, medical professionals have shifted from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”.

This allows them to develop a better understanding of their patient’s past and present life situations, which results in better care outcomes. There are 4 goals trauma-informed care seeks to achieve:

Not only is trauma-informed care beneficial to patients, but it also helps reduce burnout of health care providers. The philosophy of this care is meant to impact patients, professionals, and organizations as a whole, improving patient engagement and treatment outcomes.

6 Guiding Principles of Trauma-Informed Practicing

For an organization to implement trauma-informed care into its treatment programs, it needs to understand what encompasses trauma-informed practice. Below, we have outlined the 6 guiding principles.

  1. Safety. Patients, families, and staff feel physically and psychologically secure.
  2. Trustworthiness and transparency. All decisions are made with transparency and the goal of building and maintaining trust.
  3. Peer support. Individuals with shared experiences are integrated into the organization and viewed as integral to service delivery.
  4. Collaboration and mutuality. Power differences between staff and patients are leveled to support shared decision-making.
  5. Empowerment, voice, and choice. Patient and staff strengths are recognized and validated, including the belief in resiliency and the ability to heal from trauma.
  6. Humility and responsiveness. Biases, stereotypes, and historical traumas are acknowledged and addressed.

These guidelines are what help mental health professionals implement the type of care necessary for anyone to heal. We’ll continue to talk about how these principles influence patients as they recover later in this blog.

Young adult in therapy being comforted by a mental health professional.

Benefits of Trauma-Informed Care

After becoming familiar with the principles of this type of care, individuals can better understand how it can benefit patients throughout their treatment journeys. In the following section, we will review the advantages of trauma-informed care.

Sense of Safety in Patients

The entire design of trauma-informed care is to establish a sense of safety in patients and staff. Patients are taught to feel physically, emotionally, and mentally safe in any environment in the present.

By promoting this sense of safety, professionals are increasing the chances of their patients engaging with treatment approaches and more willing to share their experiences.

Actively Avoids Re-Traumatization

As we mentioned earlier, one of the priorities of trauma-informed care is to ensure patients don’t relive or experience new trauma. There are several ways an individual can become re-traumatized.

For example, re-traumatization can occur if a patient is forced to retell their stories continuously or is pushed to open up before they’re ready.

Mental health professionals must actively avoid re-traumatization because it often makes situations worse and causes other serious mental health issues, like anxiety and clinical depression.

Empowers the Patient

Patient empowerment is crucial to allowing the individual to feel in control of their life and their treatment. By offering a collaborative approach professionals give patients the chance to make their own decisions.

This is not only a powerful motivator, but it is also another way professionals can help their patients feel safe in a healing environment.

Finally, supporting patients and encouraging them to feel empowered will ultimately lead to better engagement and the building of trusting relationships with their mental health professionals.

Peer Support Resources

One of the biggest difficulties individuals face after experiencing trauma is the feeling of being alone. Because of this, they tend to isolate themselves or hide this part of themselves to fit in.

Trauma-informed care can be used to bring individuals together and share their experiences. This makes them feel essential to the organization and a part of something greater than themselves. It also avoids making trauma survivors feel as if they are “broken” and unlike their peers.

Group of young adult women talking to each other in a group therapy session.

Learn more about how Malvern Behavioral Health practices trauma-informed care by contacting our team today.