Recognizing how trauma affects individuals and families is the first line of defense in getting help for those who may be suffering, according to Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.
Cox was one of several keynote speakers who addressed a Resilience through Caring Connections conference held on the campus of Utah State University Wednesday.
The conference brought together parents, social workers, school personnel and physicians, all concerned about the health and well-being of children in our community.
Cox said Utah is becoming a trauma-informed state. As a result, state employees are being trained in recognizing trauma and how it impacts mental health within “vulnerable populations.”
“Unfortunately, we are number five in the nation for suicide rates,” Cox said. “What research has shown is that when there’s connection and we can avoid trauma, suicide rates go down. We are encouraged at the progress we’re making, but we know we still have a long way to go,” he said.
Part of that progress came in the form of a resolution recently signed into law by Utah Governor Gary Herbert.
H.C.R. 10 encourages state policy and programs to promote interventions and practices to identify and treat survivors of severe emotional trauma.
While there are no policies in place specifically addressing trauma, Cox said the state recently surveyed mental health professionals in an effort to help move the conversation forward.
“The next direct steps will be to digest all of the information we receive back from the surveys,” Cox added. “That will help us understand how much of this has happened. What we are hoping is that we’ll see where those gaps are. Do we need more funding for training? Where do we need to implement this? Where are those holes and how can we fill them?” Cox said.
Esterlee Molyneux, Executive Director of The Family Place, is a member of the coalition that sponsored the conference.
“The underlying message is that we need to connect with one another,” she said. “We need to have face-to-face conversations. We need to watch out for our own children, in addition to our neighbor’s and our friend’s children. When we have those connections that’s how we build resilience,” Molyneux stated.