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Columbus Public Safety offers guidance on healing at first trauma care conference

The city hosted a first-of-its-kind trauma conference to help families identify trauma and find solutions.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A first-of-its-kind trauma conference aimed at helping youth was held Saturday by the Columbus Division of Police.

Trauma is an event, a series of events, or a set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening. It can have lasting adverse effects on our mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

For City of Columbus Public Safety Director Robert Clark, it stemmed from losing a parent. 

"My father was murdered when I was 13 years old. The person who committed that murder was never held accountable," Clark said. "I carried that trauma with me into my teen years and as a young adult."

For others, it stemmed from social issues.

"It's the issues of policing. The issues around affordable housing," said Londale Towns, a mental health advocate.

Experts from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's STAR (Stress Trauma and Resilience) program, Big Lots Behavioral Health Services and The Center for Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and Columbus Public Health's CARE (Community, Action, Resilience and Empowerment) Coalition offered information, guidance, and help with childhood trauma, adult trauma, and community-based trauma.

According to organizers, the effects of trauma can last for years.

"When you suffer trauma and you even begin to normalize that trauma, you begin to act out in ways that are detrimental to yourself, detrimental to your friends and family, your community, schools, and workplaces," Clark said.

Some of that trauma is from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Institute of Health, kids who were quarantined are more likely to suffer from acute stress disorder and grief. Up to 30% of children who were socially distanced experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

Towns said his son was no different. 

"Before this pandemic, he was very happy, very outgoing, did he spend too much time in the house. Post-covid, I began to see him shift to introverted," he said.

Social workers with Nationwide Children's Hospital said talking to your child can change the outcome.

"Ask them what's going on how are they feeling how they can help me so making the topic," said Shari Uncapher, director of Big Lots Behavioral Health Services. 

She said the main sources of trauma among Columbus children are abuse, the pandemic, and community violence.

Mental Health Resources from Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services:

  • Supporting School Wellness Toolkit: Developed by the Ohio Department of Education, this free toolkit provides students, families, teachers, administrators, and communities with support to assist in responding to mental health challenges amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ohio Department of Insurance: ODI has a robust variety of web resources to help Ohioans understand their mental health benefits when it comes to insurance. The Department also has an employer toolkit.
  • Ohio Department of Veterans Services and the Ohio National Guard offer resources for military service members, veterans and their families through Ohiocares.ohio.gov and the Veterans Crisis Line 1.800.273.8255 (Press 1).
  • National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI): For 2022’s Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI will amplify the message of Together for Mental Health and use this time to bring our voices together to advocate for mental health and access to care through NAMI’s blog, personal stories, videos, digital toolkits, social media engagements and national events. 
  • Mental Health America (MHA): To promote Mental Health Month, MHA has released a Back to Basics toolkit with a variety of outreach and awareness resources individuals and communities can use to promote wellness.
  • Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation: OSPF works to reduce the stigma of suicide, promoting evidence-based prevention strategies, and raising awareness about suicide’s relationship to mental illness, alcohol, drug abuse, and other issues.

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