Here at the Secondary Trauma Resource Center, we train and consult with Kansas City’s hardest workers on how taking care of themselves and each other is not only important – it’s an ethical imperative.
Working with cops, nurses, social workers, therapists, teachers, fire fighters, shelter workers and others has taught us that our community has some absolutely amazing caretakers. But we have also seen how that important work can take its toll on even the strongest individuals, many of whom tell us, “I’m tired, I’m angry, and I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
Their reaction is hardly unusual. Secondary trauma is one of the most overlooked public health issues of our time. Ignoring the stress and trauma of our jobs leads to high turnover, health issues, poor service and much more. The rate of chronic diseases, alcoholism and divorce is much higher for most of our partners than it is for the general population. For many of us in this field, our everyday job – which may include operating on cancer patients, managing crisis hotlines, or hearing from children on how they were sexually abused – changes our worldview, heightens our stress level, and makes it difficult for us to leave our work at work.
For instance, did you know that cops are three times likelier to die from suicide than on the job? And even aside from suicide, working as a police officer means that not only are you likely to die 15 years earlier than your counterparts, but that your children are also likely to die sooner? It is high time we start acknowledging that job-related stress and trauma are serious issues that need to be dealt with in a comprehensive and meaningful way.
That’s why at the Secondary Trauma Resource Center we go way beyond simple trainings and work with agencies on how they can better support their employees, both through easy, everyday acts to larger changes in policies and practices. We work with them on changing their agency culture into one that acknowledges the difficulties of their work and makes efforts to ensure that staff members are getting everything they need to best take care of themselves and their clients.
We know Kansas City is ready to deal with this important issue. Feedback from our partner agencies has been amazing:
“This training changed my life.” – Brenna, social worker
“We never talk about how this work affects us, but we will now.” – Jamie, police officer
“I have made some major changes since I first saw you speak.” – Alison, nurse
It’s time to advocate for our community’s hardest workers. If you would like more information on the Secondary Trauma Resource Center, please visit www.secondarytraumaresourcecenter.org or call (913) 669-3086.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.