Respond to at least two colleagues who selected articles that addressed different national tragedies. Analyze and discuss the similarities and differences of the needs of the individuals involved in these tragedies. What are some of the factors that needed to be addressed by the mental health community in both of these events? How can social work address the gaps in available services?
Colleague 1: Pascha
Traumatic events are increasing throughout society over the last ten to twenty years. The most recent tragedy is that of the Las Vegas shooting that left approximately 60 dead and over 500 injured. One can’t help but to question if we are becoming more accustomed to such tragedies, the intensity and severity has gotten worse or we have better adaptation and resiliency to such stressors. Many have their own justifications such as gun control, mental illness left untreated, PTSD from war and more. What set out to be an evening of country music and celebration turned into a night of bloody terror, leaving those affected at risk of severe PTSD. Over the last week, this tragedy has not only affected those directly involved, but everyone across our great nation. Tragedies such as this is causing people to avoid large populated areas, finding flaws in our justice system and oversights. As each day passes, there is some mention of more devastation and tragedy due to this mass shooting and citizens are re-focusing their attention and priorities. If this tragedy didn’t affect us personally, it affected a great spectrum of those who love country music, those who love the bright lights and excitement of Las Vegas and etc. In some form or fashion, this tragedy has affected us all.
Psychosocial issues that need to be addressed following the Las Vegas shooting include the openness of discussion of what happened, why it happened, how it could have been prevented and much more. There needs to be a place where those affected can cry and express emotions, fears, questions, uncertainty and more. Research has shown that “psychological first aid” or early mental health responses is relatively new and has shown great benefits (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2008). Another issues that needs addressed is how we explain this tragedy to our children; how much to tell them, how much to not disclose and then allow them to ask questions, but most importantly is to be honest. Seventy percent of adults in the US have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives (DeLois, 2015). Victims of such tragedies need to feel safe, at this point for these Vegas victims, talking isn’t the most important part just yet.
There are many successful interventions that can be implemented to address these psychosocial issues include talk therapy. According to the internet, news and media; there are several crisis centers that are in place in the Las Vegas area to assist the victims, their families, the first responders, medical staff, motel staff and more. Talk therapy allows those affected to merely talk about what they seen, heard, felt and more. This form of cognitive behavior therapy recognizes the ways of thinking that are keeping you “stuck”. An example of this includes the negative beliefs and the risk of such traumatic events happening again. Another wonderful and extremely effective intervention for tragedies such as this magnitude is exposure therapy. Here, this behavioral therapy helps victims to safely face both the situations and memories so that one can learn to cope with them effectively. This approach is extremely helpful for issues such as flashbacks and nightmares. As we continue to view graphic footage from the media only paves the path for harming the recovery process. The victims and their loved ones should only listen to the news long enough to know what is merely happening and then simply turn the TV off. Continuously experiencing the trauma unfolding even If you haven’t been directly impacted can take its toll.
The effectiveness of the above mentioned interventions in the article include how CBT is empirically based. Numerous studies can be analyzed, surveyed and even combined with CBT to show its effectiveness. The data behind CBT is well controlled, analyzed sufficiently and the results speak for themselves. If psychotherapy is to be taken seriously, it must rely on empirical research (DeLois, 2015). As social workers, we cannot simply use anecdotes, testimonials, narratives or tirades to guide our choice or treatments. CBT deals with serious problems such as exposure and survival to traumatic events, such as those from the Vegas shooting. Moreover, CBT has been found to provide significant advantages in the treatment of bipolar, PTSD, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. Lastly, CBT examines the origins of the problem at hand. When founded by Beck, CBT describes the “formation, persistence and maladaptive coping of early schemas” (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2008).
There are extremely significant implications of social work in connection to traumatic events that include the relation of psychological wellbeing, distress, post-traumatic growth and much more. Empowerment-based programs are becoming more common in the social work field, yet very little research has been done on the implications of empowerment for social work practice (DeLois, 2015). Dynamic training that addressed traumatic events will be needed for social workers. In all areas of crises, social workers are needed in the continuum of care for the victims. Social workers will need to work as members of a team in addressing the needs of victims for preventative, curative and rehabilitative services (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2008). Unfortunately, the status alone of a social worker can prevent victims from wanting to discuss matters because of the societal stigma attached to social work. This stigma is not something that social workers alone as professionals can eliminate, society can and only when society accepts that social workers are doing positive work and advocating for those affected by traumatic events and tragedies
Calhoun, L. and Tedeschi, R. (2008). Beyond Recovery From Trauma: Implications for Clinical Practice and Research. Journal of Social Issues, Volume 54, Issue 2, pages 357-371.
DeLois, Kate. (2015). The Organizational Context of Empowerment Practice: Implications for Social Work Administration. Social Work, Volume 40, Issue 2, pages 249-258.
Colleague 2: Brian
The event that I will focus my attention on for this discussion question is the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. It was approximately a year and a half ago when a mass shooting at LGBTQ nightclub took place, claiming 49 individuals. There are several psychosocial issues that derived from this tragedy. In many cases what occurred at Pulse enhanced already existing problematic psychosocial dilemmas for many members of the LGBTQ community, not only those who reside in Orlando area, but also those around the country as well. Generally speaking, members of the LGBTQ community have fewer places to feel included than do their heterosexual counter parts. LGBTQ friendly establishments, such as Pulse (and other places that are not necessarily night clubs), offer a sense of inclusiveness to those who desire to fit in with others in community and with allies who are heterosexual. It was an attack where many found comfort in their community. The mass shooting at Pulse adds to the psychological related issues many members face as a result of the discrimination they experience in their lives. One of which contributes to their chances of suffering from PTSD later in their lives (Samuelson, 2016).
During my research for this event I uncovered several stories about crisis management during and shortly after the event. There were scores of counseling teams that conducted the initial process of therapeutic interventions for the victims. The response by the local counselors in Orlando was remarkable. As Candace Crawford, president and CEO of the Mental Health Association of Central Florida, pointed out the crisis team in place during days after the Pulse shooting was adequate, however, many will not find it sufficient when they encounter the effects of the trauma later on (Bray, 2016). This brings me to the point I would like to make in this discussion. Little research pertaining to therapeutic interventions for trauma related events, like the one we witnessed in Orlando that affects the LGBTQ community as a whole is scarcely discussed in literature. When it is, it is so in brief detail.
There are implications that social workers may encounter while working with trauma patients who are LGBTQ. Individuals are affected by trauma in different ways as Ogden, Minton, & Pain (2006) points out. These effects vary because of age, human development, their gender, existing risks and strengths, and available social support systems. Even further, trauma victims are at risk for developing addictions. This is troubling with estimates of addiction among the LGBTQ community to be as high as 30% (Redding, 2014). Thus, the social worker will need to be cognizant the intervention must take into account the substance abuse addiction factors.
Bray, B. (2016). Counselors play part in Orlando crisis response – Counseling Today. [online] Counseling Today. Available at: https://ct.counseling.org/2016/07/counselors-play-part-orlando-crisis-response/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2017].
Ogden, P., Minton, K., & Pain, C. (2006). Trauma and the body: A sensorimotor approach to psychotherapy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.
Redding, B. (2014). LGBT Substance Use — Beyond Statistics. Social Work Today, [online] 14(4), p.8. Available at: http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/070714p8.shtml [Accessed 11 Oct. 2017].
Samuelson, K. (2016). It Doesn’t ‘Get Better’ For Some Bullied LGBT Youths – Northwestern Now. [online] News.northwestern.edu. Available at: https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2016/02/lgbt-bullying-mental-health/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2017].
Respond to your colleagues’ responses within the small group discussion. Offer alternative strategies for presenting policy proposals.
Colleague 1: Holly
he means of communication used depends of the needs of the population social workers are representing as well as the policy makers the social workers are communicating with. Social workers must build relationships with legislators and policymakers and garner awareness of issues important to legislators and policy makers (Jackson-Elmoore, 2005). Social workers must acquire knowledge of legislator preference for information gathering (Jackson-Elmoore, 2005). Social workers should empower individuals and groups to share concerns with policy makers (Jackson-Elmoore, 2005).
One area requiring attention is homeless veterans. In 2016, “the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Estimates that 39,471 veterans are homeless on any given night.” (FAQ About Homeless Veterans, 2017). Social workers can begin garnering awareness in local communities, gathering support from residents, and contacting local and state officials. Social workers can communicate the needs of the homeless populations to legislators and policy makers, stressing their dedication of service to their country. Through community outreach and communication to legislators, social workers can highlight the trauma service members endure that may have led to their homelessness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, TBI, substance abuse, and low socioeconomic status (“Veteran Homelessness,” 2015). Social worker should relate to the values of legislators and policy makers shared by service members (Jackson-Elmoore, 2005).
FAQ About Homeless Veterans. (2017). National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics
Jackson-Elmoore, C. (2005). Informing State Policymakers: Opportunities for Social Workers. Social Work, 50(3), 251-261.
Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
Veteran Homelessness. (2015). National Alliance to End Homelessness. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from https://endhomelessness.org/resource/veteran-homelessness/
Colleague 2: This is a follow-up question from the original discussion post from the instructor.
Communicating the needs of vulnerable populations to policy makers who may not share your views about the need for services may involve reminding them of the reasons for the existence of the said people, or the existence of their problems. Policy makers may question resolutions that oppose deportation of immigrants. Even though the problems of a vulnerable community may not be as a result of failure of the economic system, it is vital to relate to how the problems impact on the economic system (Jackson-Elmoore, 2005). It would help to appeal to the ideals shared by policy makers. For example, most of them are proud that the United States presents a land of opportunity and liberty to citizens and foreigners, and it is only logical that immigrants are attracted to the country. It would also be helpful to relate to the ideals of equality, as enshrined or promised in the Constitution (Howlett, McConnell, & Perl, 2014). As an advocate, and if that is the case, I would elicit support for desired goals by reminding policy makers that the vital resources will mostly be sourced from well-wishers. According to Jansson (2018), it can be helpful to remind policy makers that budgets would not be heavily distorted through funding programs.
Thanks for your input. Often times politicians need to feel the pressure-the public unrest if you will-to proceed with decisive action in the policy arena. How would you help create/stimulate this pressure without offending them in your lobbying efforts, in other words, with tact and diplomacy?
***Each response needs to be ½ page with 1 or more references***