How Does Student Mental Health Relate to Trauma?

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Individuals who have experienced trauma are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health issues (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2014). As the prevalence of trauma histories among the general population continues to increase, it is imperative for all of us who work with students to understand how we can engage with them in ways that are supportive to their mental health. The use of trauma-informed practice & care acknowledges that traumatic experience(s) can impact our mental health (SAMHSA, 2014). These experiences must be considered when trying to navigate how to best support the mental health of post-secondary students on campuses.

“Triggering or reactivating trauma-related symptoms originating from earlier life events” (Davidson, 2017, p. 17)

Since the early 2000s, when clinicians noticed that the trauma linked to patients’ negative mental health outcomes was not being addressed, they took strong action to bring trauma-informed practice & care into the mental health space (Butler et al., 2011). Clinicians saw a need to actively avoid traumatizing and/ or re-traumatizing those they were working to support (Butler et al., 2011). Trauma-informed practices & care are used in the mental health realm to support trauma-affected individuals in developing trauma resiliency skills to better prepare them should they face new and difficult situations (SAMHSA, 2014).

Thumbs upRecommendations:

  • Understand what trauma is, what it isn’t, and how widespread it is.
  • Recognize the diverse impact trauma has on individuals.
  • Implement the five core values of trauma-informed practice & care to help create environments that mitigate risk of re-traumatization and promote healing and recovery.
  • Recognize and validate the unique and complex relationship between trauma and mental health.
Guide: PDF Version