Trauma Informed Communities


MHAS has recently implemented a new initiative in our effort to create a Trauma Informed Community called "Hope. Healing. Recovery. Together We Overcome". Building a Trauma Informed Community was developed as a holistic approach to community engagement that recognizes the impacts of trauma on residents' lives. Building resilient and trauma informed communities is essential to improving public health and well-being. Although communities can be places where traumatic events occur, they can also help protect us and be a source of healing.

Our goal is to increase education and awareness throughout the community of the negative impact of unaddressed trauma, which often can be the underlying issue for many mental health and addiction concerns, in addition to sharing ways to prevent trauma and create a healthy community. Our hope is to shift the conversation from “What is wrong with a person?” to “What happened to the person?” in an effort to create a more empathetic community where barriers and stigma are reduced and people can find hope, healing, and recovery.


6 Principles of a trauma informed approach in the community

  • Safety

    • Prevents violence across the lifespan and creates safe physical environments.

  • Trustworthiness

    • Fosters positive relationships among residents. City Hall, police, schools, and others.

  • Empowerment

    • Ensures opportunities for growth are available for all.

  • Collaboration

    • Promotes involvement of residents and partnership among agencies.

  • Peer Support

    • Engages residents to work together on issues of common concern.

  • History, Gender, & Culture

    • Values and supports history, culture, and diversity.



What is Trauma?

Trauma is the emotional shock that follows a very stressful event or a physical injury. It is important to understand that a traumatic event is not an isolated event perceived equally by those who experience it. In other words, what is traumatic to one individual may not necessarily have the same impact on another person. Traumatic events can be especially damaging for youth who are still in the stages of neurological development since a youths’ brain is not fully developed until their mid-20’s. Traumatic situations youth are exposed to or experience, can be labeled as “Adverse Childhood Experiences” or “ACES”.  ACES come in many forms, from physical and mental abuse to neglect and household dysfunction (such as substance use, family incarceration, divorce, or mental illness for example). There are not only serious psychological effects of ACEs on young minds, but there are also the long-term health complications that can come from recurring exposure to ACEs.


Youth Who Experience Four or More ACEs:

  • 10–12x greater risk for Intravenous Drug Use and Attempted Suicide

  • 2–3x greater risk for developing Heart Disease and Cancer

  • 32x more likely to have Learning and Behavioral Problems

  • 8 out of 10 Leading Cause of Death in the U.S. correlate with exposure to four or more ACEs


As seen above, ACES have a tremendous impact on future exposure to mental health concerns, physical health complications, and substance use disorders. By being aware of how trauma affects individuals and working together to reduce the prevalence of ACES and other traumatic incidences, we can begin implementing protective factors, increase empathy, prevent future exposure to trauma, and help create a community in which every youth and adult thrive.