Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Traumatic events that children witness often result in emotional harm and can lead to long-term physical and mental health consequences.
“Children today are exposed to so much including shootings, violence and drug abuse. We need a resource to help children learn the coping skills that address these various issues,” said Marsha Polk, manager of Education and Outreach at the Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children’s.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $2.8 million dollars to seven organizations nationwide to help children exposed to trauma. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s received $393,000 to develop a program intended to promote healthy behaviors specifically in minority and/or disadvantaged youth.
“Unresolved trauma is a risk factor for nearly all behavioral health and substance use disorders,” said Polk.
The federal grant establishes a local foundation titled Cincinnati Community Oriented Trauma System or C-COTS. It includes nine community-based organizations to develop innovative approaches to provide support for children and their families.
Researchers are at the start of a five-year program that will involve 50 children at two elementary schools who are at risk for poor health and poor life outcomes because of childhood trauma.
For the next several months, mental health professionals, counselors and social workers will be collecting assessments of school children who range from kindergarten to the 5th grade. Once the assessments are made, researchers will then begin addressing interventions and services needed for the students.
“We know mental health also impacts physical health,” said Alysia Longmire, coordinator of the C-COTS grant and preventive specialist at Cincinnati Children’s. “That’s why it’s so important children have the coping skills to carry into their teen years and adulthood.”
The nine community groups include: