My initial reaction to the short video was that unfortunately this is only one story of many. It is that her cries both verbal and expressed through art went unanswered. The system failed Anna and her family and countless others who have been pushed through the system. Only applying a Band-Aid to a bullet wound. In order to heal past trauma one must be able to look past the symptoms in order to see the personal to understand the best way to treat. As an example: You have two people who are obese and diabetic. Patient A has experience many years of early childhood trauma. Obesity and diabetes is a result over emotionally eating and using weight as a protection from abuse. Patient B is a product of their upbringing of unhealthy eating habits and lower education levels in the home. Both have the same “symptoms” but different etiology. Here is where “Truth lies in a person’s story, not in their symptoms.”
As I stated above the traditional model of medicine is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. Focusing solely on symptom treatment does not take into account the story behind the symptoms and many times the story is needed to understand the root of the issue. We know that trauma, especially in early childhood increase risk factor for unhealthy behaviors and long term chronic health outcomes. Address trauma and the treating the person is one step in improving overall health outcomes for the individual. Not to mention the potential to reduce the financial burden of extended health care cost. To go back to Anna, she was in the system for 19 years. Countless healthcare dollars were spent on treating her symptoms. Which was not successful and ultimately lead to her untimely death. Should Anna have been treated as whole person, the outcome most certainly would have been different.
There are so many “symptoms” that could easily be considered pathologically, but really are protective strategies adapted to survive the experience of trauma. Obesity can be seen as a problem unhealthy eating patterns, but in reality could be a coping skill to avoid being traumatized/abused. Whether they want to reduce their physical appearance to protect themselves or are eating to cope with the pain they feel inside. Many traditional models of medicine may treat this as simply a behavior problem and not a mental health issue.
While our agency does not inquire about trauma histories. We do practice Collaboration and Mutuality, Empowerment, Voice and Choice. Our practice uses motivational interviewing skills to help elicit the clients engagement in the process. Using these skills to work with a client where they are at and encourage them to have a sense of autonomy. Putting them in the driver’s seat so to speak. Letting them have a sense of control in the situation. Recently our team has received Mental Health First Aide training to assist in our day to day interactions with clients.