When people think of abuse, they tend to think of what happens to the body – but what about the mind? As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, RALIANCE wants to take a moment to acknowledge the connection between various forms of trauma and mental health.
The facts clearly demonstrate that sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse can have a major impact on a survivor’s mental health:
• Women who experience intimate partner violence, which can include physical and sexual violence between any individuals in a close relationship, are much more likely to display symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression.
• Each person reacts to traumatic experiences in different ways in the immediate aftermath and long term, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Trauma following sexual assault can potentially cause a number of long-term negative outcomes, including anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.
• Notably, a person doesn’t need to directly survive violence to experience its impact. According to the Prevention Institute, “those who witness violence, as well as those who fear violence in their community, suffer emotional and mental health consequences too.”
Understanding the connection between trauma and mental health is critical for many reasons, including two especially important ones here:
• For survivors, recognizing a relationship between the violation they’ve survived and the mental health impacts they’re experiencing can be an important step toward seeking support.
• For those looking to support survivors, fully acknowledging the important connection between mind and body can help them respond in a trauma-informed way. At RALIANCE, we believe schools, workplaces, and organizations can build trauma-informed cultures that understand the impact of past trauma, prevent the re-traumatization of survivors, and support opportunities for healing.
Mental health must be taken seriously as core to both individual well-being and healthy communities and society. We hope all our readers will take the final days of Mental Health Awareness Month as an opportunity to reflect on how we can better care for ourselves and others – and then carry those practices forward for the rest of the year.
If you or someone you know is facing mental health challenges, see here for additional resources.
RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.