Being trauma-informed or trauma-sensitive is a crucial part of systems of care. In order to have a more caring system surrounding children’s mental health, we must understand the widespread occurrence of trauma and how to create environments that support the resilience of individuals who have experienced it.

SAMHSA identifies four key components of trauma-informed care: (1) understanding trauma and how it can affect families, groups, organizations and communities, (2) the ability to recognize the signs of trauma, (3) that there is a response by applying a trauma-informed approach and (4) efforts made to resist re-traumatization.

If we ignore the fact that a majority of people will experience at least one trauma over their lifespan, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. Trauma can have a deep, long-lasting impact on a person’s perception of the world and of themselves. By taking a trauma-informed perspective we are recognizing the impact of trauma and finding ways to help those who have experienced trauma to feel safe in our presence and in our organizations. Only from a foundation of safety and trust can we expect children, youth and their families to allow us to join their mental health journey.

With the right support and intervention, people can overcome traumatic experiences.

Trauma is more common than many people think

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics reported that, in 2014, children aged 0-17 had experienced trauma in their lifetime…


8% had experienced sexual victimization


25% had experienced maltreatment


41% had experienced a property crime


51% had experienced a physical assault


38% had witnessed domestic violence

Trauma Informed Care

A video by Orchard Place Des Moines that explains what trauma is and how to be trauma informed.

“There is always hope….merely understanding trauma and its aftermath can help rebuild a future.”

Ways to Be Trauma-Informed


Change your thinking from "What is wrong with you?" to "What happened to you?"

A behavior that may seem to create problems for a person now may have originally developed for protection and survival during a threatening time. By understanding what a person has experienced, we better understand behaviors and mindsets.


Become trauma aware

Learn how trauma can impact individuals and their families and friends.


Understand that trauma is a personal experience

A person’s age, life experience, gender, health status, support system, genetics and many other factors influence how a trauma is perceived and how that person responds to it.


Create a safe environment

Consider how to make your space safe – physically, psychologically and emotionally – for those who have been through trauma.

For information about how to become a trauma-informed behavioral health organization, take a look at SAMHSA’s TIP 57 or the Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In the 1990’s Kaiser Permanente did a study of over 17,000 members, asking them about their childhood experiences and their current health and behaviors. That and other ACE studies have found that…


ACEs are common

Almost two thirds of adults reported at least one.


ACEs cluster

If there is one ACE, there is probably another.


ACEs increase risk

Having one or more ACE has been found to be a risk factor for more than 40 health concerns.


ACEs can be prevented

A safe, stable, nurturing relationship or environment can help prevent ACEs and reduce risk for those who have already experienced them.


ACEs are not destiny

Just like knowing other risk factors, knowing your ACE score gives you the power to take action.

For more information, visit ACEsConnection or watch this 5-minute video from KPJR Films.


Resources for Self-Care

Self-Care Starter Kit

This kit from the University of Buffalo School of Social Work was developed for professionals but can be used by anyone as a way to develop a self-care plan. It includes assessments, activities and exercises.

Mental Health America

This page shares information on how to take care of yourself on your path to recovery from mental health challenges.

The Road to Resilience

The American Psychological Association put together this page to explain what resilience is and how to build it.

The Source • Youth Mental Health Network


There are a lot of places in your city that can help, too.
Here is a list of some community resources.


For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.


For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255 or text the word ‘home’ to 741741 for Crisis Text Line.


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If you need someone to talk to, text “Help” to 741741, or call 1-800-273-8255.