Helping Direct Service Workers Become Trauma-Informed

woman explaining ideas to staff

Almost everywhere I go, I hear the stories of how tragic and impactful the current mental health crisis is in children and adults across our country. I have spoken with schools, healthcare organizations, community leaders, foundation staff, mental health organizations, child protective services and other treatment facilities. The tone is desperate because their systems are overwhelmed with this post-COVID consequence in our culture. It is more than tragic.

When we mention the demand for mental health services we think of the need for therapeutic social workers, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Yet, the hard truth is that all of these professionals are also overwhelmed with the needs they face and are often unable to take referrals. This trend is extremely difficult to manage because those who are struggling to get help are frustrated with how long it takes and the lack of availability for help in the near future. What are they to do?

We do not see a great deal of change forthcoming. I believe that this problem is so pervasive that there is little hope for more help. That means we will have a significant number of mental health needs that will not be met, creating chaos, fear and some very scary consequences to our families and communities.

One way to help the problem is to provide training to the direct service professionals. These can be identified as the frontline workers who are dealing with individuals who are seeking help.  Even though they may not be clinical professionals they can be trained to know how to deal with individuals who have experienced adversity and other sources of trauma. 

We know this to be true because we provide training to these valuable workers who are confronting these issues every day. They are devoted individuals who are working in our systems of care, and provide first contact, empathy and help to those who are struggling with different forms of mental health issues. They have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of those in their care.

Our Lakeside Global Institute provides training to over 20,000 professionals who are largely direct service workers. We have found that they have a great deal of capability and if trained properly, they can provide effective interventions for those who have been trauma-impacted.  This is one way we can help our systems of care. We desire to help these individuals become clear about how trauma has impacted those they encounter who are struggling personally and need support.

It is our hope that these thousands of caring professionals will become trauma responsive as they utilize the skills we have offered them to be more effective in their impact to those in their care. We think this is key to helping so many who have experienced difficult life obstacles and need a skilled direct service professional to listen, support and provide the hope they need for recovery and healing.

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