The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a new report, Helping Children and Youth Who Have Traumatic Experiences. The report shows that nearly half of the nation’s children have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Children and youth who have experienced traumatic events are at risk of developing serious emotional disturbances or serious mental illness. To address the needs of children and youth, SAMHSA’s Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) promotes treatment and support for children, youth, and young adults who experience serious emotional disturbance or serious mental illness. Children who experience trauma and receive treatment through systems of care show significant improvements in their behavioral and emotional health. This framework enhances care coordination across multiple systems that work with children’s services.
Evaluation data in the report shows that after one year of treatment:
- Rates of suicidal thoughts among youth who experienced trauma and received treatment through systems of care reduced 68 percent, and suicide attempts reduced 78 percent.
- Displays of externalizing behaviors (not following rules, exhibiting aggressive behavior, or expressing behaviors that are difficult to manage) reduced 17 percent.
- Internalizing symptoms such as withdrawing from others and being anxious or depressed reduced 22 percent.