Multi-university team seeks to improve trauma treatment and mental health for students
Existing research suggests that exposure to stressful traumatic events as a child or teenager, including violence, homelessness and serious illness, can have lasting health implications throughout an individual’s lifespan. Weaving trauma-informed practices into existing educational, health and mental health programs has been shown to have a significant positive impact. However, the implementation of these techniques varies widely and is particularly scarce in the developing world where exposure to childhood trauma is often the highest.
A multi-university team, including Cleveland State University, is seeking to further disseminate best practices and training in addressing trauma with the goal of creating more uniform, global implementation of trauma-informed practices in education. CSU is currently collaborating with Kent State University and KCA University in Nairobi, Kenya to assess the incidence of trauma among students and ultimately develop a model for educators to improve the use of trauma-informed practices in universities across the country.
Dr. Dakota King-White, Assistant Professor of Counseling in the College of Education at CSU noted that “this effort is one of the first to develop trauma-informed practices that is directly geared to the specific needs of students in Kenya.”
Dr. King-White and her colleagues Dr. Kamesha Spates, Assistant Professor of Sociology, and Dr. Na’Tasha Evans, Assistant Professor of Health Education and Promotion, both at Kent State, traveled to Kenya in the summer of 2019 to assess the needs of students, faculty, and staff and to promote the importance of trauma-informed practices. The researchers conducted assessments on pervasiveness and severity of trauma experienced by students, while providing education and training in trauma-informed care to providers, educators, students and administrators.
Moving forward, the team hopes to use the data to develop specific programming that can reduce the effects of trauma among students, as well as provide additional training for educators and administrators to properly implement the programming into existing health, mental health and educational services offered by KCA University. Dr. King-White also hopes the effort can serve as a model for the development of broader trauma-informed practice initiatives in Kenya and in other developing nations around the world.
“By providing educators and care givers with better tools, we can address the barriers that impact youth due to trauma and help young people thrive academically, socially, and emotionally,” she adds.