Perseverance and courage in the face of failure and despair

 With so much going on at Footprints, it was hard to discuss   just one topic this newsletter and as a result, I felt compelled to write about two extremely important issues both which are relevant and timely due to the current events.


The story of the ANZACs who fought at Gallipoli and also around the natural disasters of recent times with Cyclone Marcia. Both lead to a discussion into how we cope with traumatic experiences.  Studies have shown that affects of traumatic experiences can be instant or built up over time. We discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, these triggers, symptoms, treatment practice and how you, family and friends can offer support.  

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - (PTSD). What is it? 

Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event. That is, they have experienced or witnessed an event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them, and led to feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror. This can be a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or disasters such as bushfires or floods.

PTSD can have a big impact on relationships. When a person tries to block out painful memories it can appear that they are irritable or uninterested in others. How to Identify the symptoms: 

Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder is identified by three main groups of symptoms:

Flashbacks of the traumatic event through intrusive memories or nightmares.

As well as strong emotions, there may be physical symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic attacks.

Feeling emotionally numb and avoiding situations that are reminders of the trauma.

Avoiding possible reminders of the trauma can cause someone to lose interest in day-to-day activities and become detached from friends and family. Some people experience 'dissociation' -  a feeling of watching from a distance as events unfold.

Feeling anxious and 'jumpy' for no reason.

Heightened vigilance can mean the affected person is constantly on the lookout for danger, possibly leading to irritability and a lack of concentration.

Footprints - Mental Health and Trauma-Informed Practice

Research suggests that the majority of people who access a mental health service have a history of trauma and that many current models of service delivery do not manage this well. 

Footprints recently undertook training in Trauma-Informed Practice with Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) to improve the service provided to our clients. 

Providing trauma-informed service delivery requires:

An understanding that client behaviours are adaptive attempts to cope with life experiences

Interactions with clients are to be informed by this awareness (respectful, empathetic, non-escalating)

A consideration of what has happened to the person rather than what is "wrong" with the person placing an emphasis on skill- building.

Trauma-Informed Practice is based around five key principles: 

1. safety

2. trustworthiness

3. choice

4. collaboration 

5. empowerment.

These principles sit well within the recovery framework that is the most commonly recognised approach for mental health services.

As workers, our own awareness, conduct and self-care has major implications for our interactions with clients. Personal well-being has been shown to foster empathy, reduce the risk of vicarious trauma and decrease the likelihood of negative interactions.

How do you as a family member or friend offer support?

Be patient. Getting better takes time, even when a person is committed to treatment for PTSD. It's a process that takes time and often involves setbacks. 

Educate yourself. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you'll be to help your loved one, understand what he or she is going through, and keep things in perspective.

Don't pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. Just let them know you're willing to listen when they're ready.

Take care of your emotional and physical health. As the saying goes, put on your own oxygen mask first. You won't be any good to your loved one if you are burned out, sick, or exhausted.

Accept (and expect) mixed feelings. As you go through the emotional wringer, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings -some of which you'll never want to admit. Just remember, having negative feelings toward your family member doesn't mean you don't love them.



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