Happy Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month! All kids deserve kind, safe, welcoming places to grow.

The impact of community trauma on our emotional well-being

An officer-involved shooting in Minneapolis on June 23, 2018 resulted in the death of a man from North Minneapolis. As an organization providing children’s mental health services, we painfully acknowledge that people who have suffered the loss of a loved one under traumatic circumstances often find grieving excruciatingly difficult.

In this moment, as evidence is gathered and an investigation takes place, we recognize the psychological impact this incident has on the emotional well-being of our neighbors:

  • There are family members left hurting at the loss of their son, brother and neighbor. The combination of life-threatening traumatic personal experiences, loss of loved ones and post-violence adversities pose ongoing psychological challenges as families attempt to  mourn and recover.
  • This incident conjures up historical trauma that’s been experienced and felt by communities of color for decades. As Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey noted, “too many times, people from across Minneapolis and the Twin Cities have been stung by the pain of a life lost in the course of an encounter with law enforcement. Regardless of what happened… the historical trauma inflicted on communities of color is never far from nearly every facet of our lives.”
  • Many families that Washburn Center serves are fearful about their safety. Strained relations between law enforcement officials and communities of color have created a time and place where the children we serve are faced with tough questions: “Can I trust police officers? Why does the color of my skin change how I get treated?” These are just a few of the questions that our therapists hear from children as they grapple with the deep impact of trauma on children and families.

These incidents impact the mental health of our community, our neighbors and especially the kids we serve as they try to make sense of the world around them. We offer this Model of How Historical Trauma Impacts Health from the US Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health to show how reminders of historical trauma – such as this incident – impact individual and community health (click on the image to enlarge it).

We also offer families these resources on community violence and trauma:
Talking to Children About Community Violence

Tips from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network 

Info on the long-term impact trauma can have on a child’s social, emotional and behavioral development