The effects of adversity and trauma can have an impact on physical and mental health throughout life. Evidence of exposure to adverse childhood experiences, the physiological effects, and links with social, educational, employment, criminal justice and health outcomes mean that adversity and trauma are key to creating social and health inequalities.
However, the negative consequences of adversity and trauma are not inevitable. If you experience adversity in childhood you have a higher risk of experiencing certain problems in later life, but this is not guaranteed. There is a developing evidence base about the effectiveness of interventions and services for children, families and adults, and education, health and criminal justice services.
Interventions aim to prevent adversity and trauma, identify at an early stage children experiencing adversity and trauma, build resilience, and provide ]trauma-informed services for children and adults. Although there are gaps in the evidence base, there is evidence of both effectiveness and cost-effectiveness for some interventions to reduce the impact of adversity and trauma.
Ongoing research continues to add to an understanding of adversity and trauma and associated risk factors. This includes the significance of community environments like poverty and poor quality housing, and how these can affect resilience and trauma.
The Adversity and Trauma HIT
The Adversity and Trauma HIT is a collaboration across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The HIT will:
- raise awareness and understanding of adversity and trauma
- contribute to the developing evidence base
- develop policy and practice approaches to prevent and mitigate the impacts of trauma
- build a ‘case for change’ which will set out how we can work differently together so that we can prevent trauma and improve health and wellbeing.
This work is not about single interventions but a fundamental shift in the way services are developed, delivered and experienced, and an acknowledgement that these are complex experiences that affect people differently.
Developing a trauma and adversity informed approach is a process of organisational and system change to create a culture, environments and relationships that promote recovery and prevent re-traumatisation. It also focuses on prevention, understanding the risks of experiencing trauma and adversity, minimising those risks and recognising early where an individual, family or a community is experiencing trauma in order to respond and support when needed, not only when more serious issues occur.