Public Health Heroes: Office of Youth Violence Prevention Supporting Male Survivors of Violence Program

Office of Youth Violence Prevention

According to the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health, the national average in 2012 for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among children aged 0 to 17 was 47.9 percent. ACEs can include experiencing extreme poverty, family problems, violence, abuse, and discrimination. In Baltimore, the same age group experienced ACEs at a rate of 56.3 percent. Trauma has a direct impact on the mental health and development of children, while continuing to affect them into adulthood. Addressing ACEs can require a variety of healing approaches.

The Health Department’s Supporting Male Survivors of Violence Program (SMSV) is housed within the Office of Youth Violence Prevention, and is one of 12 pilot programs funded through the Office for Victims of Crime within the U.S. Department of Justice. The Program supports young Baltimore males of color, aged 14 to 24, and their families who have experienced trauma, violence, and other adverse childhood experiences. Trauma Program staff support people as they process their trauma, stress, and other personal tragedies.

“The SMSV team is here to provide the ultimate support to victims of violence and individuals who have experienced trauma, and to support them in rebuilding and healing,” said SMSV Program Director William Kellibrew. “There is a sense of wholeness when we address mental health and well-being. Trauma disrupts a sense of connection, control, and meaning. It can alter one’s world view.”

The Program employs credible messengers with lived experiences of trauma as outreach workers, and consists of three direct core services: access to mental health services; Safety, Emotion, Loss, and Grief (SELF) community conversations; and referrals for housing, employment, mental health and substance use treatment, and transportation services. It aims to prevent the vicious cycle of victimization; through their participation, youth gain a better understanding of what trauma is and how it impacts them, as well as a framework to facilitate positive changes in their lives and communities.

In addition to SMSV, the Office of Youth Violence Prevention also provides city-wide training through an evidence-based, trauma-informed approach. The trainings involve understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma in order to support survivors as they rebuild a sense of control over their lives.

“Trauma-informed training is important to have. As a city, we need to begin the healing process. This approach starts to build commonality among our fellow citizens,” noted Trauma Training Coordinator Raguel Broy.

Staff from the Health Department’s STD/HIV Clinics, Needle Exchange Program, Animal Control, Senior Centers, and In-Home Visiting Programs are among the many city employees who have already received trauma-informed care training. Members of the Trauma Team are currently working with various city agencies and schools to address and mitigate high-risk circumstances.

For more information about the trauma and mental health resources available at the Health Department, click here. For questions the SMSV Program, please contact William Kellibrew at 443-984-3564.

Related Stories

Note From The Commissioner:Getting Tested and Talking to Our Youth about Sexual Health

This past week, we celebrated Pride Month during the 2019 Baltimore City Pride Parade and Festival. We were excited to participate and enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces from the community and beyond. 

Note From The Commissioner: Planning and Advocating for a Healthier Baltimore

Last week, I was joined by my leadership team as we went before the City Council to present our budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.

Note From The Commissioner: Let's Continue to Win for Baltimore!

I want to express my gratitude and pride in the entire Health Department for their hard work daily supporting the health needs of Baltimoreans.