Har­vey-af­fected youth need emo­tional reg­u­la­tion, risk screen­ing

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - OUTLOOK - Cloud is the Pres­i­dent and CEO of The Sim­mons Foun­da­tion, which fo­cuses on the im­pact of trauma within their grant­mak­ing port­fo­lio. Kaplow is di­rec­tor of both the Trauma and Grief Cen­ter and Har­vey Re­siliency and Re­cov­ery Pro­gram at Texas Chil­dren’s Hospi

chil­dren in­volved have al­ready suf­fered from mul­ti­ple losses and trau­mas. Har­vey pro­vides an oc­ca­sion to be­gin ad­dress­ing a pro­found, long­stand­ing gap in the im­ple­men­ta­tion and dis­sem­i­na­tion of trauma- in­formed in­ter­ven­tions. Although we rec­og­nize that not all youth who ex­pe­ri­enced the storm and its aftermath will need spe­cial­ized at­ten­tion or sup­port, we must be mind­ful that it is nor­mal for chil­dren and teens to ex­pe­ri­ence some dis­tress and im­pair­ment in func­tion­ing af­ter a dis­as­ter. We learned from Ka­t­rina that chil­dren and the adults who serve them can greatly ben­e­fit from ba­sic emo­tion reg­u­la­tion and cop­ing skills. In this crit­i­cal mo­ment, schools and other sys­tems present ideal set­tings in which to im­part th­ese so­ciale­mo­tional skills.

Viewed through a trauma- in­formed lens, the lan­guage of en­cour­ag­ing youth to “pull them­selves up by their boot­straps” or quickly re­turn to nor­mal fails to ad­dress the very real psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact of a trau­matic event such as Har­vey. Ex­pect­ing chil­dren and youth to ig­nore the im­pact of Har­vey on their homes, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties is se­verely un­re­al­is­tic and en­cour­ages fur­ther harm. As ex­perts work­ing in the field of youth men­tal health, we urge lo­cal lead­ers to in­clude trauma-in­formed ap­proaches to their work, par­tic­u­larly when they are work­ing di­rectly with chil­dren. Im­ple­ment­ing th­ese ap­proaches will re­quire knowl­edge about which chil­dren were most ex­posed to po­ten­tial hur­ri­cane-re­lated risk fac­tors; for ex­am­ple, which chil­dren were forced to leave their homes, were res­cued from high wa­ter, sep­a­rated from their care­givers or forced to at­tend a new school, among other chal­lenges.

Later down the road, we will need to bet­ter un­der­stand which chil­dren may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms of post-trau­matic stress and as­so­ci­ated psy­cho­log­i­cal or be­hav­ioral health prob­lems that can sig­nif­i­cantly in­ter­fere with func­tion­ing. This in­for­ma­tion will re­quire valid screen­ing and as­sess­ment tools de­signed to iden­tify vul­ner­a­ble youth, as well as ev­i­dence-based in­ter­ven­tions for those who are in need of treat­ment. Our aca­demic cen­ters will need to form close col­lab­o­ra­tions with com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions, schools and youth-serv­ing sys­tems, work­ing hand in hand to ad­dress the needs and strengths of youth af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. There­fore, we en­cour­age th­ese youth­serv­ing sys­tems and the adults who run them to lead with em­pa­thy and to se­ri­ously think through how to deal with the trauma of Har­vey, us­ing ev­i­dence-based pro­gram­ming in­clud­ing risk screen­ing and in­ter­ven­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.