New Initiative Explores Awareness for Trauma in Polk County

Mental Health Task Force Measures Trauma Readiness in Community, Offers Free Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Community Presentations

Mental Health Task Force of Polk County(January 30, 2018) The Mental Health Task Force of Polk County (MHTF) is working to support individuals and organizations using a trauma informed approach in providing care to individuals and families in Polk County and help raise awareness for the impact that early childhood trauma has on the community through a new Trauma Informed Care (TIC) readiness program and by offering a series of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) community presentations.

The goal of the TIC initiative is to evaluate the extent of TIC training and implementation that has occurred in Polk County, to identify areas of need and opportunities for TIC implementation within schools and other organizations, and for the MHTF to serve as a community resource for TIC support.

The project was made possible through funding from the United Way St Croix Valley’s Community Impact Grant program. “Knowing that this is a great need, we were pleased to provide additional
funding to Mental Health Task Force because of their accomplished work, and their plan to take their support to the next level,” states the United Way St. Croix Valley’s Executive Director Ann Searles. “This will make a positive impact in Polk County by adding new resources to address mental health.”

Trauma Informed Care is an approach to engaging people that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma affects the individual, families, and communities by disrupting healthy development, adversely affecting relationships, and contributing to mental health issues. Understanding the impact of trauma is an important first step in becoming a compassionate and supportive community.mentalhealthcallout.png

Individual trauma can be measured through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), negative occurrences in childhood, including abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction, which impact a child’s ability to learn in school, interpret and function socially with the world around him/her, and increases the risks for problems with poor health, addiction, and the ability to function in society as an adult.

The MHTF is offering free ACEs presentations to schools, community groups, government and nonprofit agencies to help spread awareness of the impact ACEs have on mental health in the community and the value of trauma-informed services.

Although mental health providers, clinicians, school staff, County employees and individuals in a variety of public service roles have received TIC training, with some institutions and organizations having adopted TIC-focused policies, there is no entity the works to educate, coordinate and advance the goal of becoming a trauma informed community. The MHTF hopes to fill that role in Polk County.

The funding received from the United Way St. Croix Valley has provided the MHTF with the opportunity to hire a new Program Coordinator, Lisa Murphy, to help advance the goals of the project. As a part of this new position, she has received TIC focused training, formed a TIC advisory committee, and has met with TIC practitioners inside and outside of Polk County. The MHTF has started a new trauma-focused newsletter, Trauma Talk, which is distributed to individuals who have received TIC training or are interested in the project, and is creating a new resource page on the MHTF website, mentalhealthpolk.org.

Recently, the MHTF co-hosted a screening of a documentary film about ACEs, “Resilience,” at Unity High School on January 23rd. The public event drew 150 people, and featured a mental health and social services resource fair, plus a panel discussion of community leaders discussing issues and ideas related to the film.

The MHTF will also coordinate a series of meetings with mental health therapists, school counselors, Polk County Community Services staff and other social service professionals who have participated in TIC trainings, to look for input and ideas on how the nonprofit can support their efforts to implement TIC in their work and community.

For more information on the MHTF’s TIC readiness project, please contact Lisa Murphy, Program Coordinator, at lisamurphy@mentalhealthpolk.org.

 

About the Mental Health Task Force of Polk County

The Mental Health Task Force of Polk County is a 501 C3 nonprofit organization, comprised of a coalition of community partners including area medical and mental healthcare providers, government and law enforcement representatives, human service agencies, volunteer organizations, school counselors, treatment facilities, educational services, and community members.
Our Mission
•    Reduce the stigma that is associated with mental health issues
•    Improve access to mental health care
•    Increase awareness of mental health issues through educational programming
•    Identify and address mental health issues that face our community
•    Prevent suicide by building awareness within our community