The Star Democrat

Wes Moore discusses trauma

Governor hopeful listens and responds at Cambridge meeting

- BY TOM MCCALL tmccall@chespub.com

CAMBRIDGE — Wes Moore, a Democrat running for governor, came to listen to stories of trauma and how to respond to this intergener­ational problem. There were about 20 mental health practition­ers, state level politician­s and nonprofit members seated around a long table at the Dorchester County Department of Social Services office on Wednesday, November 17. Everyone got to share their point of view on this issue that can encompass race, socioecono­mic status and the problem of substance abuse disorder.

Person after person noted that there seem to be more people that need help than there are resources.

The group was appreciati­ve to have someone listen to their issues. Moore made eye contact with people while listening to their stories and took notes in a black notebook. Moore said he first experience­d handcuffs at age 11 and lived with a single mom trying to make ends meet with three jobs. He managed to escape the trauma trap by being sent to Valley Forge military school, but he has felt it since.

He wants to make Maryland a national leader in trauma-informed care.

Trauma can present itself in many ways. It could be substandar­d housing with mold in the walls or dirt floors. It could be a baby born into addiction, which makes it multigener­ational. It could be working three jobs and not getting ahead. It could be living with the constant whine of ambulances and gunshots nearby. All of it leads to traumatize­d people who need help to get their feet back on the ground.

The final topics discussed included how to support all of these caregivers and how to keep them grounded and capable of giving the best care possible. The people around the table agreed with this concern.

“We are talking about something that is touching every aspect of our society but we are not treating it as such. We are not funding it as such and we are not acknowledg­ing it as such,” Moore said. “Trauma is a collection of experience­s that help determine what your future is. These are things that strike at our everyday resiliency. Trauma is very similar to a larger weight that will sit on your shoulders that can alter your trajectory or slow you up from getting where you need to be. Part of our responsibi­lity as a society is to lift that trauma off to allow people to go in a way that their life intended.”

Moore believes the tool of law enforcemen­t is not solving the problem. Moore argues that these root level social service providers need more funding and more people in their ranks.

“I am leaving here with a clear mandate that more needs to be done and more will be done,” Moore said at the end of the discussion. “There are certain things that I have written down here that I am not going to forget. It makes me remember how much we need you. There are no backups. The ask I have in all this is please take care of yourselves,” he said.

This message of helping the workers in the social services pipeline, resonated

with this understaff­ed and overstress­ed crowd.

“This work is hard,” Moore said. “This work is increasing. You need reinforcem­ents.You need more capital,” he said.

In attendance was Zeke Cohen, a Baltimore City Council member.

“I went to Cambridge to learn about the layers of trauma facing the Eastern Shore. The part that broke my heart was when a woman said, ‘I knew that to be successful, I’d have to leave home.’ I’ve heard this sentiment for young people in Baltimore,” Cohen said.

Omeaka Jackson of Mid Shore Behavior Health is forensic case specialist. She was a principal organizer of the event. She works in Caroline County and wants to know how to get more education and resources to better serve her clients suffering from trauma.

Alisha Saulsbury has worked as an MSW for over 22 years in trauma recovery and addiction and mental health.

“What I learned in 22 years is that trauma shows up. This position opened up to be a Forensic Mental Health Program Manager

for the five county region. This hopefully allows me to be able to do more jail diversion and treatment and treating trauma,” Saulsbury said.

“We strive to be a continuum of care for the five mid-shore counties,” Katie Dilley, the executive director of mid shore community health, said. “This allows us to work with the population that is homeless. Trauma is all over this community that we are responsibl­e for supporting, spanning their entire lifetime. My team and I feel passionate about getting ahead of it and getting upstream. We have a lot of gaps that we are trying to fill and we are working tirelessly with the Behavioral Health Administra­tion to find available funding to make this happen. Dorchester county has become a priority population because there is such a lack of providers and the population that is entitled to services aren’t accessing them.The Eastern Shore is very good at rolling up its sleeves and doing a lot with very little, but we are ready to have a little more.”

That brought cheers around the table.

 ?? PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL ?? Katie Dilley is the executive director of Mid Shore Community Health. She said of trauma care, “The Eastern Shore is very good at rolling up its sleeves and doing a lot with very little, but we are ready to have a little more.”
PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL Katie Dilley is the executive director of Mid Shore Community Health. She said of trauma care, “The Eastern Shore is very good at rolling up its sleeves and doing a lot with very little, but we are ready to have a little more.”
 ?? PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL ?? Wes Moore listened to over 20 social service providers talk about the impact of trauma on The Eastern Shore. Trauma shows up in hundreds of ways whether it a family affected by addiction or a teenager hearing gunshots out their window or a baby born addicted to drugs.
PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL Wes Moore listened to over 20 social service providers talk about the impact of trauma on The Eastern Shore. Trauma shows up in hundreds of ways whether it a family affected by addiction or a teenager hearing gunshots out their window or a baby born addicted to drugs.
 ?? PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL ?? A group of social service providers got together with Wes Moore, who is running for governor. The topic was trauma and the way it hurts the people in our community. They met in Cambridge.
PHOTO BY TOM MCCALL A group of social service providers got together with Wes Moore, who is running for governor. The topic was trauma and the way it hurts the people in our community. They met in Cambridge.

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