Building Resilience for a Healthy, Productive Future

Filed in Education, Jobs by on May 3, 2011 0 Comments

When early childhood traumas are recognized and addressed, youth and young adults can overcome challenges and thrive in the workplace.  

Many youth have experienced traumatic events and the impact can reverberate years later. A quarter of children experience a traumatic event by age 4 and more than 60 percent of youth are exposed to violence by age 17. Research shows these adverse childhood experiences increase the risk for job-related problems, financial problems, and absenteeism, as well as substance abuse and depression, in adulthood.

Graph Source: Felitti V.J., & Anda R.F. (2010). The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to adult health, well-being, social function, and health care. In Lanius, R., Vermetten, E., & Pain, C., (Eds.) The effects of early life trauma on health and disease: The hidden epidemic. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved April 22, 2011, from

For youth and young adults, the effects of childhood trauma can make entering the workforce especially difficult. Failure to achieve employment can exacerbate existing challenges, leaving a young person increasingly vulnerable just at the time when he or she is expected to move out into the world and take on new responsibilities. It is therefore particularly crucial to provide interventions that build resilience and address the ramifications of past trauma, while also preparing the young person for success in the workforce. If youth are unsure whether past traumatic events are impacting them, resources are available to help them look for the signs of traumatic stress. Programs, such as the Chicago-based Threshold Young Adult Program (YAP), can help young people who have experienced a traumatic event find and maintain competitive employment. YAP’s employment support component combines peer mentors with an evidenced-based Individual Placement and Support employment model. Peer mentors provide critical social support, role modeling, and guidance to help young adults achieve their employment goals.

Youth dealing with trauma who have demonstrated resilience and those who help them will be celebrated on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day today, May 3. Over 100 national organizations and federal programs and 1,000 communities across the country are marking Awareness Day with community events, youth rallies, social media campaigns, and other activities. Youth, peer groups, employers, and others can participate by helping building resilience in youth dealing with trauma, learning more about the impact of childhood trauma, recognizing the signs of traumatic stress, and connecting with organizations in their own communities to help raise awareness and help youth dealing with trauma become successful in the workforce. See how youth dealing with trauma have transitioned into the workforce and, with support, have demonstrated resilience in a webcast of the Awareness Day national event.

Editor’s Note: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is a grassroots initiative designed to demonstrate that children with emotional health needs can thrive in their communities. The National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2011 Collaborating Organizations consists of 107 Federal programs and national organizations coming together to raise awareness that positive mental health is essential to a child’ healthy development from birth. For a full lisiting of the Awareness Day 2011 Collaborating Organizations, please visit:

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