Resilience & Prevention: We must set communities up for success to overcome periods of trauma and stress
A shortage of help during a critical time
Many lessons are being learned during this global pandemic. Some have been more painful than others. A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the difficulties individuals are having finding help for their mental health struggles. People are waiting months for appointments if they’re even lucky enough to reach someone who has an opening for new patients. A study published by the American Psychological Association in November 2020 shows that after six months into the pandemic, there are more people seeking help than there are practitioners to help. Most psychologists reported seeing 74% more patients for anxiety and 60% more for depressive disorders. All medical fields are feeling the stress. There are too many people that need help physically and mentally. This is leaving staff burned out and frustrated as well.
Need for empathy and education
Another lesson we’re being taught over and over again is the need for more education and empathy towards mental and behavioral health challenges. During this unprecedented time when people are being challenged in ways they never thought possible, we are having a huge spotlight shown on this crisis. From a 9-year-old being pepper-sprayed and arrested while having a mental breakdown to a large increase in suicide rates for women in Japan, to the rise in addiction and relapse and physical abuse, our world is in pain. We are struggling.
The shortage of mental and behavioral health crisis services is hurting individuals that are struggling and also their families and communities. Barring a magic genie coming to life and granting us three wishes to solve our problems, we need to teach communities how to use what they have available to help their people recover and thrive.
Importance of Connection
This leads me to Linking Human Systems (LHS). LHS uses the underlying Evidence-Based, Best Practice model, Transitional Family Therapy (As does the ARISE® method). LHS believes that communities are resilient and strong and those that are struggling need to learn the tools to access their inherent strength. LHS does this by building a network of healing in families and communities by enhancing relational resilience. Research has demonstrated the importance of connectedness to family and culture of origin, as well as to spirituality.
LHS involves external professionals in the initial phases. These facilitators work with the community to select natural change agents to work as Community Links to mobilize workgroups and achieve the goals of the community. External facilitators gradually withdraw as the community takes over ensuring long-term sustainability.
The concept is that by using trusted community members they have easy access, particularly in communities or traditional extended families where professional intervention is neither invited nor welcomed. LHS’s emphasis is on empowering individuals and families to take charge of their own direction to achieve their goals. Disconnectedness perpetuates trauma. For healing to occur from molecular to a cosmic level, there needs to be collaboration and a network of support and connectedness across the bio-psycho-socio-cultural-spiritual system.
The first LHS study was done in 1977 in Natal Province, South Africa. Dr. Judith Landau worked with the Director of Public Health. The intervention addressed a population of approximately 5 million to enhance health by reducing morbidity. Results included a reduction in infant mortality, an increase in immunization, and breastfeeding with a reduction in protein deficiency (kwashiorkor).
In 1990, in the Buenos Aires Province of Argentina, after 2 years, they showed a 400% increase in youth attending treatment, and in a city of 2 million people 15 years after the intervention, 92% of the community projects were still functioning. The best part is that nobody knew that outsiders had been there. That’s what it should be. Their mission is to tread lightly and leave no footprints.
More recently in Aurora, CO, a cultural microcosm of the United States with long-term citizens and immigrants of 29 countries, they now have an active community resilience center that grew from traumatic gun violence (2012) and is serving as an ongoing resource to the community.
One of the current projects LHS is working on is in Appalachia with grassroots peer supports, law enforcement, primary care, and quick response teams to help their communities deal with current stresses and trauma resulting in addiction and mental health issues. Like many underserved communities, they have a lack of resources and are depending on the few professionals available to handle everything. By working with LHS, these communities will learn how to access their resilience and come together to find themselves stronger and healthier than ever.
To learn more about Linking Human Systems, or if you’re interested in working with LHS, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 303-834-5194.