What is Trauma and Adversity?

Trauma and adversity are used to describe both one-off and reoccurring highly stressful and distressing events or situations.

Everyone experiences upsetting and difficult situations sometimes – and it is normal to feel sad, stressed or distressed in these situations. Usually when these difficult things happen, we’re able to get the support we need to feel better with time. However, certain events or experiences can be traumatic and can leave us struggling with our mental health over a much longer period of time. If these events take place during childhood, they are often referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Although Trauma isn’t a mental health condition in itself, experiencing trauma and adverse life events can result in a person struggling with their emotional wellbeing, relationships and mental health.

A wide range of mental health problems can be linked to trauma, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders and self-harming behaviours. Some can also be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Someone experiencing these will often have flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts that can appear at any time or ‘from nowhere’, and strong feelings or reactions in response to reminders of a particular event or experience. They may also avoid particular memories, thoughts and feelings related to the distressing experience, as well as people, places or activities that remind them of it.

What causes Trauma and adversity?

Trauma and adversity can be caused by a number of different things but it often involves a threat to a person’s physical or emotional safety, and a sense of being trapped, powerless or unsupported in the face of a perceived danger or in the time afterwards –without immediate access to safety and protection.

Potential causes:

  • One-off or ongoing distressing events e.g. Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Being directly harmed e.g. a violent or frightening event such as an assault or a car accident
  • Witnessing harm to someone else e.g. family conflict or domestic violence
  • Living in a traumatic atmosphere / feeling unsafe at home
  • Being affected by trauma in a family or community
  • Being exposed to frightening or inappropriate online content
  • Losing a family member or friend to suicide, or a sudden death in the family

How do I know if I or someone else have experienced Trauma or adversity?

Some things you may experience (or see a friend or child experience) following trauma or adversity may include:

  • Having memories, thoughts or flashbacks that seem to come suddenly from nowhere (often called ‘intrusive’ thoughts)
  • Acting out or having angry or aggressive outbursts
  • Finding it difficult to calm down when they are distressed
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, school and activities they usually enjoy
  • Repeating certain behaviours or seeming agitated
  • Avoiding thinking about, talking about or being in situations which are related to a particular experience
  • Seeming sensitive or vigilant about anything that could be threatening
  • Seeming zoned-out or disconnected from themselves, their feelings and what’s going on around them
  • Having trouble remembering things
  • Not feeling able to sleep or having nightmares
  • Using drugs or alcohol differently to how they did before, or starting to for the first time
  • Eating significantly more or less
  • Self-harming

These responses are often a way of trying to manage and express difficult feelings. You/others may feel that some of these behaviours help you to survive or cope, make sense of what’s happened, or have a sense of safety and control. However, it’s important to address what’s underneath these kinds of behaviours such as: anxious; angry; frightened; unsafe; numb; low mood or depressed; isolated; guilty and ashamed feelings.

What helps?

Talking to someone about how you are feeling is the most important thing. It can help you to process and adjust to what’s happened, and help you to ask for professional support if you need it.

In terms of professional support, the treatment you could be offered will depend on your own needs, your particular symptoms and diagnosis (if you have one) – What helps is different person to person, and can change over time, so keep an open mind and explore different options.

Treatments that could be offered include:

  • Talking therapies such as Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy; Body-focused therapies and Cognitive analytic therapy
  • Arts and creative therapies
  • Medication

How can I help myself?

  • Give yourself time – Everyone has their own response to trauma and it’s important to take things at your own pace. Just remember to be gentle and patient with yourself.
  • Do things you enjoy – Doing things such as drawing, listening to music, watching films, playing sport or cooking could provide you with a distraction and relief from any negative thoughts for a while.
  • Think about your diet – Eating three balanced meals a day can make a difference to your mood and energy levels.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol – Whilst you might want to use drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings, memories or pain, they can make you feel worse in the long run and make other problems such as difficulty sleeping worse.
  • Learn ways to relax – Learning to relax can help you look after your wellbeing when you are feeling stressed, anxious and/or overwhelmed. Try some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, body scan meditation, visualisation and mindfulness meditation and exercise.
  • Learn your triggers – Specific experiences, situations or people might trigger reactions like flashbacks or panic attacks. These can include reminders of past trauma, such as particular dates (such as the anniversary of a traumatic experience), smells, sounds, words, places, types of books or films. Writing down the events of your day along with your mood in a diary could help you spot patterns that could be triggering you.
  • Reach out – Talking to someone you trust could help you to process and adjust to what’s happened, and help you to ask for professional support if you need it.

Penhaligon’s Friends

Who are they?

Penhaligon’s Friends are a Cornish Charity who support bereaved children, young people and families throughout the County.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Bereavement and Grief.

What services do they provide?

  • 1-1 support
  • Family/ school visits
  • Local monthly support groups for bereaved young people aged 11 – 18
  • Telephone support and advice for bereaved families
  • Local monthly Family Groups
  • Memory Days and events
  • Literature and resources

When are they open?

Mondays-Fridays 9am-5pm

Where?

1 to 1 support would either take place at your school or at their office, Trecarrel, Drump Road, Redruth TR15 1LU.

Their Young people’s groups meet between 6:30 and 8pm at the following locations:

  • Newquay Teens Group meet at Newquay Children’s Centre, Trenance Road, Newquay,TR7 2LU on the 1st Monday of month.
  • Redruth Teens Group meet at Trecarrel, Drump Road, Redruth, TR15 1LU on the 2nd Monday of month.
  • Penzance Teens Group meet at Gulval Village Hall, School Lane, Gulval, TR18 3JB on the 3rd Monday of month.
  • St. Austell Teens Group meet at St. Austell Children Centre, Woodland Road, St Austell, PL25 4RA on the 4th Monday of month.

 

Their Family groups meet between 5 and 6:30pm at the following locations:

  • Redruth Family Group meet at their office, Trecarrel, Drump Road, Redruth, TR15 1LU on the 1st Thursday of each month
  • Liskeard Family Group meet at Liskeard Methodist Church, Barn Street, Liskeard, PL14 4BL on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

How do I refer?

Via a written referral from a professional or direct contact from a family member. Families can call directly on 01209 215889/210624 or email enquiries@penhaligonsfriends.org.uk.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people up to the age of 18 experiencing Grief.

HeadStart Your Way

Who are they?

HeadStart Your Way is the Community strand of HeadStart Kernow delivered by the Your Way partnership. They support young people aged 10-16, parents, carers, volunteers and community groups through their Youth and Community Facilitators aiming to prevent the onset of mental ill health.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

The main target group for support within HeadStart are young people with low level anxiety and stress through to mild and early stage mental ill health. However, all staff have also been trained within the Trauma Informed Schools approach to develop an in-depth understanding of what it’s like for a young person to suffer from specific mental health problems e.g. depression / anxiety and feel confident in offering them accurate empathy, understanding and key psycho-education support.

What services do they provide?

Their Youth Facilitators can provide you with direct support through one to one workshops and group activities. Offering a safe and confidential place to talk as well as giving you the relevant information and techniques to help with your emotional wellbeing.

Their Community Facilitators can provide links between young people, schools, community groups, professional and parents. As well as delivering specialist training packages tailored to parents/carers, community groups, VCSE providers and volunteers around mental health and wellbeing. They also manage a group of volunteer mentors who can offer you support, understanding and encouragement through any challenges you might be experiencing, at a lower level than our Youth Facilitators provision.

When are they open?

Their services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and Facilitator.

Where?

Their Facilitators arrange visits in schools, local outreach and community venues across the County dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Referrals should be made via the Early Help Hub by requesting a "Bloom" consultation. The Early Help Hub will then ensure that the most appropriate means of help and support are given. It’s important to note that a referral into Bloom does not guarantee support from a HeadStart Youth Facilitator. It is however the only way to access HeadStarts one-to-one support. Contact the Early Help Hub by calling 01872 322277 or emailing earlyhelphub@cornwall.gov.uk

Who can be referred?

10-16 year olds with Mild to Moderate Mental Health issues.

Xenzone

Who are they?

XenZone is an organisation that provides Face to Face and online mental health services for children, young people and adults. Kooth, from XenZone, is a free online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Stress, Identity, Sexuality, Health, Relationships, Eating Disorders (no restriction to this currently).

What services do they provide?

  • Face to Face & Online Counselling
  • Online Mentoring
  • IPT-A Counselling
  • CBT Counselling
  • A range of psychotherapeutic practices and methods (each dependent on the associate)

When are they open?

Their Online services are available Monday-Friday 12pm-10pm and Saturday-Sunday 4pm-10pm.

Their face to face services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and counsellor.

Where?

Their Face to Face team arranges visits in schools, local outreach and community venues dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Via email cornwalloffice@xenzone.com or phone for face to Face support but email is always recommended. You, a family member or professional can make a referral to the service.

For online services you can create an account and log on to the website to access information and support.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people up to the age of 19 (up to the eve of 20th Birthday) experiencing Mental Health difficulties.

Outlook South West

Who are they?

Outlook South West are an organisation who support young people aged 16 and over within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with their mental health issues through Psychological Therapies.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Antenatal and Postnatal Depression

What services do they provide?

  • Psychological Therapies
  • Patient-centred Therapy
  • Psycho-educational courses & groups
  • Individual one-to-one therapy (i.e. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Online therapy (i.e. SilverCloud)
  • Telephone CBT

When are they open?

Mondays to Fridays 9am - 5pm

Where?

Their therapies are provided throughout GP surgeries and their locality offices across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

How do I refer?

Referrals from professionals and individuals can be made Online (https://gateway.mayden.co.uk/referral-v2/01d3ec67-a688-4700-8b1e-ad3acacabf07), by email (OSWLLP.Referrals@nhs.net) or by Telephone (01208 871905)

Hear Our Voice 1-2-1

Who are they?

The Hear Our Voice 1-2-1 NHS Commissioned service is a project that provides targeted one to one intervention to young people who are experiencing mild to moderate difficulties with their mental health and emotional well-being.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Depression, risk taking behaviours, low confidence and self-esteem.

What services do they provide?

  • A safe and inclusive environment that supports young people to explore
  • Mental health management
  • Resilience building
  • Positive coping strategies development
  • Supporting young people in setting and achieving their goals using a range of individual interventions including youth work and goal setting methods.

When are they open?

This can vary. Intervention usually takes place during weekdays; however, evenings and weekends are available to meet the needs of the young person.

Where?

Countywide

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-18 with mild to moderate mental health

Hear Our Voice WP CYP

Who are they?

Hear Our Voice WP CYP (Children and Young People Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) is a project Commissioned by the NHS and delivered by Young People Cornwall (YPC) and AFC. They provide Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LI CBT). The idea for LICBT is to operate at an early intervention level where presentations experienced are mild to moderate. LI CBT is a single stranded approach meaning that the focus will be on the ‘main’ concern such as anxiety or depression rather than co-morbidities and complex presentations.

LICBT is an approach that is considered non-intrusive and considered guided self-help. The overall aim is to replace unhelpful habits with more adaptive/helpful habits and strategies and places the focus on one’s thoughts and behaviours.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, Depression/low-mood and Behavioural difficulties (13+)

What services do they provide?

  • Low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Lifestyle management

When are they open?

Their services are arranged between Monday – Friday by the individual and the WP CYP

Where?

Each WP CYP will arrange visits in schools, homes, local outreach and community venues dependent on the individual they are supporting.

How do I refer?

Referrals are taken directly through the organisations request for help form and referral management system or through the Early Help Hub.

Who can be referred?

Children and young people (age) with mild to moderate anxiety and depression presentations, including social phobia, separation anxiety, generalised anxiety, panic (including panic with agoraphobia), mild health anxiety, simple phobia, sleep problems & stress management.

Exclusions include high risk children and young people including entrenched self-harm, complex cases (co-morbidities), chronic depression and anxiety, Bi-polar depression, blood vomit and needle phobia, PTSD, bereavement, complex interpersonal and relationship issues, pain management, psychosis, eating disorders, historical and current experiences of abuse/violence.

Speak Up Cornwall

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) speak up Cornwall is a participation group for young people aged 13-24 looking at, supporting with youth voice and creating tool kits for mental health services across Cornwall. Speak Up Cornwall works at both a local reginal and national levels. It also supports services at a strategic level as well as service entry level.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

  • Current members have a wide range of mental health issues.
  • What services do they provide?
  • Participation group
  • Support
  • Peer Support

When are they open?

Days and times will be confirmed by the group lead.

Where?

They meet once a month at Zebs youth centre The Leats, Town Centre, Truro TR1 3AG.

They also work remotely (over social media) and attend meetings, conferences and events all over Cornwall, the southwest and nationally.

How do I refer?

Via emailing charlotte.brasier@ypc.org.uk or through the Young People Cornwall referral form which can be requested by emailing: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Young People aged 13-24 with an awareness of mental health services.

ER Groups

Who are they?

Emotional Resilience Groups are a 6-week programme which provides a safe space and social support for young people to build emotional resilience. The programme provides young people with early support around concerns such as anxiety, low mood, stress, relationship difficulties and bullying.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

Anxiety, low mood, stress, low self-esteem, poor communication skills, self-harm and risk taking.

What services do they provide?

  • Sessions focus on developing emotional resilience through promoting emotional wellbeing, positive mental health, self-help and peer support
  • Young people will develop skills and strategies to manage low level mental health difficulties and access appropriate support.

When are they open?

This can vary but generally Monday-Friday

Where?

Within schools and Community venues across Cornwall.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Who can be referred?

Children and young people aged 11-25 with mild to moderate mental health

Young Men’s group

Who are they?

Run by Young people Cornwall (YPC) the service is for male individuals aged 11-19 with low level mental health issues to engage in group work. Their 1 to 1 service is first offered, with invitation to join a group. Group operates similar to a youth group in that young people can relax in a safe space, engage with workers and other group members through activities, enjoy informal discussion and have something to eat. Group trips to residential centres, activity providers and meals out also happen.

What Mental Health conditions do they support?

A wide range of low level general mental health concerns such as Anxiety, depression, stress, low mood, self-harm etc.

What services do they provide?

  • 1 to 1 work
  • Group work

When are they open?

Two groups are run once a week on a weekday evening for two and a half hours.

Where?

Previous groups took place in Launceston & Liskeard but these will be moving locations towards the Redruth, Camborne & Pool area as well as St Ives.

How do I refer?

Via email: referral@ypc.org.uk

Referrals can be made from a wide range of sources such as yourself, school, charity service, CAMHS, G.P, parent, targeted youth worker and police. Once referrals have been received workers aim to make contact within 7 days.

Who can be referred?

Young men aged 11-19. Usual referrals indicate willingness to get involved with group work at some point. Criteria can include; social skills, social isolation, low level mental health, learning disability, victims of crime, general low confidence and self-esteem.

Myth buster #1

Myth: Trauma is a life-sentence.

Fact: Although after experiencing trauma, it can feel like you’ve entered a new, unsettling world of constant risk, recovery is possible.

Myth buster #2

Myth: Nothing good ever comes from a traumatic event.

Fact: Although there isn’t anything positive about the event itself there might be a positive within the outcome of the trauma.

Contrary to popular belief, experiencing growth after trauma is far more common than PTSD. Post-traumatic growth studies show up to 90% of trauma survivors eventually show a renewed enthusiasm for life, major empathetic growth, and increased emotional maturity because of their painful experiences.

Useful resources

Smiling Mind App

­­A daily mindfulness and meditation guide at your fingertips.

Pzizz App

Sleep at the push of a button!

Young Minds

Information and practical advice to help you support your child if they’re struggling with trauma.

Need help now?

If you need to speak to someone urgently call your GP or family doctor!

or

NHS 24/7 helpline : 0800 038 5300
Childline up to 19 yrs: 0800 1111
The Samaritans: 116 123
In an emergency go to A&E or call 999