McHenry County Mental health board introduces 'Trauma-Informed Initiative'

A "Trauma-Informed McHenry County" initiative will help community members and clinicians properly define, identify and treat the side effects of childhood trauma.
A "Trauma-Informed McHenry County" initiative will help community members and clinicians properly define, identify and treat the side effects of childhood trauma.

A new McHenry County Mental Health Board initiative could help reduce behavioral health and substance abuse issues in adults, officials said.

The McHenry County Mental Health Board has partnered with Health and Medicine Policy Research Group to raise awareness about “adverse childhood experiences” or “ACEs,” said Scott Block, executive director of the county’s mental health board.

“Some of the examples would be exposure to or [being] a victim of psychological abuse, physical abuse, emotional or physical neglect, substance abuse or mental illness in the household,” Block said. “The more of these experiences one has in their childhood, the more complicated health issues they might have in their adulthood.”

The collaboration comes on the heels of Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement dedicating the month of May to mental health awareness – specifically declaring May 19 Trauma-Informed Awareness Day.

“Research has long shown that the effects of trauma cause disparity in physical health, addiction, mental health conditions, suicide rates, economic vulnerability, educational attainment, violence of all types, and that these disparities are passed from generation to generation” Pritzker wrote in his declaration. 

The Trauma-Informed McHenry County initiative will help community members and clinicians properly define, identify and treat the side effects of childhood trauma, which often can lead to a variety of behavioral health issues in adults, Block said.

The process will include training 20 to 30 local professionals from groups like the Network Council, Family Violence Coordinating Council, Substance Abuse Coalition, Suicide Prevention Taskforce, and the McHenry County Department of Public Health and teach them about the impacts of childhood trauma, according to a news release.

Identifying and treating childhood traumas early on has the potential to reduce the likelihood of further substance abuse or mental health problems later in life, Block said.

“Our hope is that this would be an improvement in the quality of care for mental health and substance abuse treatment, and also reduce the complications in health care needs in individuals as they grow,” Block said.

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