“In classroom settings, our systems are too often set up to punish children for not being able to stay focused in classrooms and adhere to behavioral standards. For children dealing with trauma or a mental health disorder, this is especially difficult…”
As a therapist, I find that much of what my adult clients are dealing with can be traced back to something from childhood. That is because as children, we discover who we are, who we are not, and what we value through our experiences and interactions with our world. When those experiences are traumatic, it can negatively impact almost every aspect of our lives – especially our ability to learn.
At the PAVE Summit in May, I presented on the urgent need for “Mental Health Supports and Trauma-Informed Training in All Schools” because, when left untreated, everyday traumas children might experience in their homes, schools, and within our society can impact and shape their minds and keep them from being the best versions of themselves.
The Washington Post recently reported that in the District of Columbia, 47% of children and teens have experienced at least one adverse childhood trauma. This is significant because adverse childhood trauma has been reported to impact brain development, immune system development, and hormone system development – it is as if the trauma becomes tangible to the body.
In classroom settings, our systems are too often set up to punish children for not being able to stay focused in classrooms and adhere to behavioral standards. For children dealing with trauma or a mental health disorder, this is especially difficult as their minds are in high-alert – playing thoughts over and over in their heads and battling feelings that project behaviors they seem to not be able to control.
Children cannot take themselves to therapy, nor can they articulate and process their life situations without assistance. That is why it is critical that mental health professionals and robust mental health supports are present where they are needed most and where children spend most of their lives – in school. Not just to respond to trauma, but for anything that affects mental health that, in turn, impacts one’s ability to learn and develop healthy habits. To allow the best of our children to shine bright, we must commit to supporting the whole-child, including their mental health.
As parent advocates, we can help by removing the bias and negative connotations around mental health supports. We must embrace that we are all impacted by our mental wellbeing and that we can better assist our society by addressing mental health disparities during childhood.
This post was first published on http://www.dcpave.org/news-and-updates/