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Resources to support your mental health

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(Image: VPM News)

What causes trauma and post-traumatic stress syndrome, and what kind of treatment options and creative therapies are available to help people? We hear from Tiffany Abdullah, a licensed professional counselor and certified clinical trauma professional with the University of Richmond Counseling Services who shares her expertise in a studio interview with Angie Miles. 


Resources and support for emotional wellness and suicide prevention: 

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) - locations throughout the state, 804-285-1749 

The VA Department of Behavioral Health and Rehabilitative Services provides support for the mental health and developmental needs of individuals throughout the state of VA For more information, viewers can click this link to find an office in your area 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) information and support from Mental Health America 


Angie Miles: Now I'd like you to meet Tiffany Abdullah. She's a licensed counselor and a certified clinical trauma professional with more than 15 years experience in the mental health field. Thank you for joining us today.

Tiffany Abdullah: Thank you for having me.  

Miles: We talk about trauma, we hear about trauma, but what is it really?

Abdullah: Yeah, so trauma is psychological distress experience following a life altering event. So that could be anything from war. That could be violence in the community. It could be a natural disaster. It could be from a lot of different situations.

Miles: Okay, and hopefully when people experience trauma, they have the support, they have the resources to process it in a healthy way, but if it doesn't get processed, that can become PTSD, right?

Abdullah: Certainly, so post-traumatic stress disorder can be experienced if you have witnessed, experienced or even heard of traumatic experience. So you may notice that you have changes in your mood, your sleep patterns, your eating, there's may be difficulty in your functioning, ability to function socially and occupationally, so there may be distressing memories. There's avoidance sometimes of triggers and things that bring to memory the actual tragic event, the traumatic event, so.

Miles:Okay, and of course there are many different treatment options for people to deal with it with a professional. What kinds of things help people come through trauma?

Abdullah: Yeah, so one of the things I like to do with some of my clients is what we call trauma narratives, and with children that might look like a drawing or artwork and with adults that could come in the form of storytelling, writing of a narrative, some type of poetry, something like that, so being able to tell the story is a very important practice in dealing with the trauma.

Miles: Self-care, telling the story, getting good guidance from people--

Abdullah: Absolutely, having that support as well and finding community I think is very important as well.

Miles: And are there people you think who may be engaged in less than healthy behaviors, maybe habitually, who are experiencing the aftereffects of trauma without realizing that they've been traumatized?

Abdullah: Absolutely, so there are a number of experiences that many adults have experienced as a child, and they bring that into their adulthood, not realizing that a lot of that is unresolved trauma that they haven't dealt with. And so, if not properly dealt with and acknowledged, then they could kind of reexperience those things in their adult life.

Miles: So things like poverty, family breakup--

Abdullah: Jail, a parent or a family member that's in prison, a caregiver that's in prison, being in a home that was not nurturing, all of those things could be traumatic for a child.

Miles: But there are resources available including professionals, and thank you so much for joining us to talk about this.

Abdullah: : Yes, you're welcome.

Miles: And Ms. Abdullah has also shared with us a number of resources that can help people cope with trauma, and you can find those on our website.