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Trauma Expert Says Behavioral Health Starts In The Home

McLean County

Trauma and the behavioral health concerns that come as a result must be addressed.

That’s according to trauma expert Elizabeth Vermilyea, the deputy director at the Child Parent Institute in California. Vermilyea was the keynote presentation at Thursday’s McLean County Behavioral Health Community Forum.

“People get afraid when they ask about trauma,” Vermilia said. “For instance, they ask about how many adverse childhood experiences someone's had, panic a little and say, ‘Well, now that I've asked I have to do something about it.’ But doing something isn't as difficult as people think. And it starts with building community resilience.”

She said addressing behavioral health starts in the home.

“Every physical and mental health problem that we look at as public health crises today can be traced to adverse child experiences,” she said. “So if we begin to address that through strengthening families, we can reduce this painful outcome in the mental health arena.”

Vermilyea said communities need to help parents develop resiliency to strengthen their own families. She said that can include increased social support and awareness of a child’s social emotional competence.

She said people need to realize that their “automatic responses” have an impact.

“That checkout attendant who looks disgruntled and angry, and you show them a moment of human interaction and understanding and compassion changes their life, changes their day, and that changes the day of everyone else they encounter,” Vermilyea said.

Vermilyea said by noting automatic responses, there is less of a chance to retraumatize or prompt an angry experience.

She said McLean County should consider itself on the leading edge of working on behavioral health at the county level.

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