The Oceanside Health and Wellness Network (OHWN) has requested the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach become trauma informed communities.
Carol Byrne, member of the OHWN committee and co-chair of the Local Action Team, and Rosalinda Bose, child and youth mental health services worker in Parksville Qualicum Beach presented to Parksville council on May 6.
The Local Action Team (LAT) was formed in 2016 as part of one of 60 communities across the province who were part of a collaboration between the Doctors of B.C. and the B.C. government, where communities were given large sums of money to improve mental health services for children and their families.
“A big part of the collaborative was to inform the community and service providers about the new research around the impact of trauma on the health outcomes for children and adults,” Bose said. “A group of us attended a conference in Vancouver in 2017 where we learned a lot about the new research and came back super inspired to try to get this information out to the community to make a difference.”
Byrne said research from the Doctors of B.C. on adverse childhood experiences showed not just an impact on mental health, addiction and suicide rates but a “true impact” on chronic health conditions, heart disease and diabetes.
“The brain and body are so linked, so the toxic stress that may have been sustained through childhood will then perhaps result in you having more physical challenges let alone mental health challenges as you go on,” Byrne said.
“What we’re trying to learn ourselves and pass on within the community, is how to create a trauma informed community to prevent retraumatization. I think the shift that we’re asking for is instead of thinking what’s wrong with them…find out what their story is because there is a story.”
Bose said being a trauma informed community means operating from a lens of understanding and being able to interpret what you’re seeing that might be an indication that a person has experienced early trauma.
“The research on resilience shows us that the keys to successful managing and coping of stress is having a supportive, attuned adult in the child’s life and that goes for adults as well, having supportive individuals around,” Bose said.
“What that could mean for you and me is to make every interaction count. That those opportunities that we have to be kind and understanding can go a long way to help foster positive change for individuals.”