Some students face the effects of traumatic experiences which cause mental health issues that have a significant effect on their ability to succeed in school. Creating a trauma-informed school environment will provide a teacher, counselor, or school-based clinician with the awareness to recognize students at risk and give them tools to provide support for students who have experienced trauma.
Studies have shown that trauma decreases cognitive ability, increases risky behaviors, causes depression, and interferes with a student’s emotional, social, and academic progress.1 Without a welcoming, supportive, and informed community ready to help them overcome these challenges, students may feel disconnected and misunderstood.
How can we as educators help improve outcomes for children who are dealing with a traumatic experience?
What Is a Trauma-Informed School?
By increasing awareness of trauma and providing better access to mental health services in-district, schools are beginning to provide physical and emotional safety within a positive and culturally responsive educational environment. Offering access to a Sage Certified Clinician provides students and staff with a safe support system and increases collaboration and connectedness.
How Common Is Adolescent Trauma?
Because trauma can be a subjective term, clear definitions of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are provided in the research. Based on those definitions, almost two-thirds of participants surveyed had at least one ACE, and 20% had three or more ACEs.1 These findings suggest that a large part of the adolescent student population may be silently dealing with past traumatic experiences without community or professional support.
What Services Do Trauma-Informed Schools Provide?
Not every student who has had a traumatic experience will be visibly in need of support. Given the large number of students who have experienced one or more ACEs, trauma-informed schools offer education and strategies to all students. Additional services are provided for students who show symptoms of trauma. Some of the strategies employed include:
- Social-Emotional Skill Development
- School-Wide Education About Trauma
- Data Monitoring and Routine Screening
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Individualized Intensive Support
- Parent and Caregiver Education and Involvement
- Community Partnerships to Coordinate Care
What Are the Benefits of a Trauma-Informed School?
By bringing trauma into the light and providing community awareness, trauma-informed schools leverage their teamwork, collaboration, and understanding to create a better experience for all of their students. Feeling safe and connected to a trauma-informed school community helps students by:
- Improving relationship skills
- Encouraging self-regulation and mutual support
- Increasing participation in the school community
- Decreasing dependence on staff to recognize students at risk
- Establishing school-wide understanding of trauma and its impacts
- Improving emotional intelligence and communication skills
- Providing access to school-based counseling with a Sage Certified Clinician™
- Supporting resilient recovery for those directly affected
- Improving attendance, behavior, and graduation rates
- Directly addressing trauma’s impact on academic success
- Creating a school-wide culture that welcomes and supports all students
How Can Your School Become Trauma-Informed?
Capturing these benefits starts with a comprehensive plan to create a community culture that includes the victims of trauma by providing timely and effective support. By partnering with Thrive to provide school-based therapeutic services, your district can quickly launch trauma-sensitive training and tools for staff, supported by individual counseling, risk assessments, clinical reporting, and crisis response if needed.
Creating a trauma-sensitive school empowers educators to confidently guide students to social and academic achievements while providing the ideal environment for children to receive the mental health support and community acceptance that allows them to overcome past trauma and achieve their best possible future.