Trauma-informed care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma in order to help survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment in their lives. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Leana Wen are committed to training every front-line city worker to becoming fully trauma-informed.
The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) is leading trainings with support from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on trauma-informed care, starting with educating dozens of BCHD’s own employees who work at STD clinics, on the Needle Exchange Program vans, at senior centers, and in-home visiting programs for pregnant women and children. The trainings are part of Dr. Wen’s public health recovery efforts and the Mayor’s OneBaltimore initiative after the City’s recent unrest.
Trauma-informed care involves training first responders and other service providers in behavioral health agencies; the criminal justice system; local, state, and federal agencies; and other institutions in methods that reduce the use of seclusion, restraints, and coercive practices (see National Center for Trauma-Informed Care). These principles facilitate healing after trauma for a broad array of individuals, including people living with HIV, victims of domestic violence, and youth within the juvenile justice system.
Trauma affects the mind and body and requires a multitude of approaches to healing. Through trauma-informed care’s emphasis on survivor stories and case studies, neurobiological models of stress, and practical implementation strategies, the Baltimore City Health Department is working with other city agencies to prevent and ameliorate the impact of trauma in our city. This is a critical step in ensuring that our residents are treated with dignity and in lessening the impact of trauma across the lifetime and between generations.