Building Awareness Around Trauma Through Hope and Healing: www.traumainformedalleganycounty.org
TICTAC (Trauma-Informed Care Throughout Allegany County) is a dedicated group of people who are determined to have an impact on the health and well-being of Allegany County citizens by providing opportunities for healing and growth after experiencing trauma. Addressing the areas of safety, trust, choice, collaboration, and empowerment in our relationships assists in that healing and growth. Providing educational opportunities and resources for the community, we strive to bring this important issue to everyone. Allegany County was the first county in New York State to pass a resolution that the county would be dedicated to being trauma informed. TICTAC is the group committed to move this forward.
We have begun to understand that adversity and trauma across the general population-especially in childhood-is increasingly considered a public health crisis. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) are prevalent in our society, and it has been shown that there is a direct link between the number of adverse childhood experiences and the risk for negative health outcomes, even into adulthood. Both research and practice experience show the negative impact that trauma has on physical and emotional well-being and that it has a strong correlation to substance use disorders. TICTAC formed as a means to better understand and mitigate ACEs, one of the root causes of trauma which can lead to at least five of the ten leading causes of death.
“As Commissioner of Social Services for Allegany County, I witnessed the effects of trauma on children, families, workers, and even myself,” explains Vicki Grant, one of TICTAC founders. “I agonized over what we could do to help lessen these effects. It is in our relationships, our interactions, our compassion, our understanding, and our empathy that can change our global impact on the effects of trauma and help us all to lessen the potential of re-traumatization in our everyday encounters. My first inspiration was to bring trauma systems therapy (TST) to our county; a treatment modality that has helped many children and families in our county. But that wasn’t enough. Bringing trauma services to the county made us realize that everyone needed to know the impact that trauma has on all of us and how it can affect us into adulthood, thus; my initiation of a 2018 county-wide resolution that encouraged the entire county to be trauma informed. We were the first in New York State to do so. Starting a county-wide coalition of individuals in all walks of life was paramount to bringing information, resources, and education to anyone who wants to learn about trauma and trauma-informed care. This coalition is TICTAC (Trauma-Informed Communities Throughout Allegany County).”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventing ACEs could reduce the number of adults with depression by as much as 44 percent. The report states that one out of six adults have experienced four or more traumas, which can include divorcing parents, encountering violence within or outside the home, parent incarceration, poverty, grief, and other situations which children can meet. The issue was recognized nearly 25 years ago because of a CDC-Kaiser Permanente study which identified causes of trauma in children which can have life-altering impacts. Children who experience six or more ACEs are likely to have a 20-year lesser life span unless the issues are mitigated, according to the report. As many as two-thirds of the U.S. population is believed to have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience. Trauma also occurs with adults.
“It is essential for communities and systems of care to understand the impact of trauma and the link between trauma and health issues to promote prevention and recovery. Trauma-Informed Care is an approach used by service systems and communities which considers the pervasiveness of trauma, promotes environments of healing and recovery, and avoids practices that may inadvertently re-traumatize individuals,” continued Grant. “Since retirement from my work as Commissioner, I continue to champion this effort as a training consultant through the University at Buffalo’s Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care. There are now several Champions throughout the County, all willing to bring this knowledge to anyone. As a founding member of TICTAC, I know that, together we can make a difference as we learn how to support one another. TICTAC is the central place to get this information for our county and we are proud to announce the launch of the TICTAC website at www.traumainformedalleganycounty.org.
The key is to remove community stigma associated with trauma, by asking oneself “what has happened to that person?” rather than “what is wrong with that person?” Many communities experience traumas such as violence, poverty, and racism, which can prevent people from building trust with their neighbors or participating in civic life. Using trauma informed tools and practices, TICTAC hopes to eliminate some of those barriers by fostering connections between residents, bolstering community resilience, and promoting emotional intelligence. Individuals interested in joining this initiative, may contact Helen Evans, Ardent Solutions, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information, visit us on Facebook at Trauma-Informed Communities Throughout Allegany County.