It’s probably safe to say that most people want to feel happy and secure in life. Having a purpose and knowing your “why” is the thing that gets us up every day, ready to face the world. And relationships…perhaps THE foremost thing we seek as humans along with unconditional love and support. As life has taught us, the things we want or desire most don’t always come so easily. There are obstacles in life that inevitably come our way, and it often takes mental and emotional strength to push through.
Unfortunately, some people have bigger obstacles than others, such as those who are being challenged by mental health symptoms or who have experienced trauma. Adverse experiences, especially at an early age, can create real barriers in individuals that make navigating life’s ups and downs a seige. At Thompson, it is our job as a professional organization and service-driven community to recognize these unique needs in people (primarily children) and employ effective treatment that address the whole person. As agents of change, understanding how to process trauma begins with thinking differently and doing differently for those we serve.
Mecklenburg County is becoming more and more aware of community needs by conducting independent resource assessments that can provide a more detailed, objective and comprehensive evaluation of a person who may have had adverse experiences. Navigating the Maze is one such assessment that was published in 2017 and highlighted several areas for improvement we can make as a community.
The issue of suicide was vital piece in the Navigating the Maze assessment because according to the 2017-2018 Community Health Assessment for Mecklenburg County, there were 105 cases in 2016. Data showed that 32% of high school students experienced acute sadness or feelings of hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row. This prevented them from doing normal activities and interacting with others. These types of behaviors, however, are manageable and even preventable; but it takes individuals, the community, and well-equipped organizations to raise awareness, create a dialogue and act.
Thompson Child & Family Focus has been a dedicated partner throughout this process of growth in the community and is making strides in creating innovative mental health treatments and prevention.
Remaining on the leading edge by employing the most advanced mental health practices, Thompson views everything through a trauma-informed lens–from the direct care employees to the Human Resources team. Having CARE (Children and Residential Experiences) infused into our culture, adding trauma-focused and other evidenced-based models, and increasing our focus on early intervention is really starting to bear fruit.
Thompson leadership chose the CARE model to really have all employees ask– “What happened to this child and family, and what can we do to help?”, rather than just seeing behaviors on a surface level. Because of this shift in view, there are families now reporting an increased improvement in mental health gains; including the reduction or elimination of suicidal thoughts in some cases. Some of this is being seen in the direct work clients and their families are doing in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT). The current Thompson cohort being trained in this evidence-based model are seeing impactful reactions to the model, giving us all hope that the treatment of trauma can directly decrease mental health symptoms, including suicidal ideations.
CARE, TFCBT and many other models and interventions are being strategically implemented at Thompson and because we are partnering with equally committed community members and organizations, we will see the real impact of partnerships. We will see suicide rates decrease. We will see people working together to build strong, thriving communities. We will see lives transformed and witness people who have struggled with trauma come through the other side.