Stress free Thanksgiving
One of our initiatives this year is to develop an organization with the capacity to better serve those in our care who have experienced trauma. Nearly 90 percent of all children served by the child welfare system have experienced some form of trauma that elevates their “toxic stress.” Toxic stress is stress that increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, drug and alcohol dependency, suicide, teen pregnancy, domestic violence and depression. Although it is just an indicator of risk and not a cause of illness, it is worth noting the relationship that stress and trauma has as a deterrent to well-being.
With this prevalence of stress among those in our care, it is imperative that our treatment interventions and the environment in which we operate are sensitive to this issue to support our clients’well-being and avoid anything that would further traumatize those who are already so vulnerable. These efforts are very comprehensive and are intended to influence all aspects of our operations, the treatment environment, our interactions with clients, and the manner in which we conduct business.
These efforts reminded me of an interview recently of a mother and son who are served at Hillsides. This adolescent arrived anxious and impulsive, demonstrating significant disruptive behavior that negatively impacted him and his family. His mother was challenged to provide him the support they needed to avoid an escalation of behaviors that were harmful. She was referred to us through their local school system. As we initiated care, we were able to identify the trauma he had experienced and help him and his mother reduce the stress that was so detrimental to their well-being. Months later she says that the services they have received at Hillsides helped her, “to get her life back….to get her son back.”
The process of restoring hope and a sense of well-being can be challenging, but the end result makes the effort very worthwhile. As this family prepares for Thanksgiving they do so freed from some of the burdens that had previously impeded their ability to sit at the same table and enjoy a holiday together. This year there will be something very special for which they will be very thankful–their family restored.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, let us be ever sensitive to the hurts and traumas that others have experienced and in a very intentional way create an environment where everyone feels safe, welcomed, and supported. In doing so, we lay the foundation to address the stressors that impact us and initiate the process of moving beyond the trauma to hope.