Every child is filled with tremendous promise – and, as a community, we have a shared obligation to foster that potential.
The stress of the past three years has been unprecedented. The current state of the world has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, well-being, and even sense of hope for the future.
Our children, families, and and communities are struggling with overwhelming grief and loss arising from the pandemic. Economic insecurity, racism and discrimination, political unrest, and overwhelming stress are threats to our sense of safety. These experiences are potentially traumatic, and if unbuffered, may have long-term health consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable children in our community.
Anxiety, depression, and suicide rates in teenagers were increasing and at an all-time high before the pandemic. The cumulative impact of social isolation, loss, and stress have amplified mental health concerns – and there is now a youth mental health crisis. As mental health providers, we simply can’t address these issues alone.
How do we build hope and resilience when it feels like our world is burning down?
Anyone who has looked into the eyes of a newborn baby knows from infancy, humans seek connection. We carry this need for connection throughout our lifetime, and from birth it provides the foundation for all relationships.
Studies show that connection can build resilience in individuals exposed to adversity and trauma. Newer research is looking at how isolation impacts adults struggling with mental illness and the importance of creating networks of support as a part of the treatment process. At varying levels, we all felt the impact of social isolation during the pandemic.
Building hope and resilience for the future means building a community where all children and families feel loved, protected, nurtured – and connected. As we continue to emerge in the aftermath of COVID-19, we need to actively work on developing positive social connections and relationships, particularly for children, families, and communities who have experienced an overabundance of adversity, stress, and trauma.
How do we go about building resilience for those experiencing ongoing adversity and trauma? First, we must shift our concept of resilience, which is often conceptualized as an individual trait, which means it is up to the individual to fix themselves, rather than looking at systemic issues that may keep adversity and trauma firmly in place. Shifting our mindsets to view resilience as a community trait and putting our efforts into creating communities where we care for EVERY child and family must be at the forefront.
Creating opportunities for Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) through buffering relationships is the antidote to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma. Every one of us has the opportunity to make a difference for a child facing adversity, whether as a teacher, coach, mentor, or attorney. This drives our work at Center for Child Counseling.
As a community, it is up to all of us to build hope and resilience for the future.
At the Center for Child Counseling, we focus on a public health approach to building awareness and action around addressing childhood adversity and trauma. The science of prevention shows that we don’t have to wait for a child to fall apart emotionally before we do something, so providing critical mental health care while building the capacity of caregivers and our entire community is essential – now more than ever in our history.
I invite you to join us in creating healing and hope for the future.
Renée Layman, President and CEO
From Our CEO: Giving Children with Trauma a Voice