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National Wellness
Week 2014

September 15–21

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Last Updated: 1/30/2014

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The Impact of Trauma on Wellness: Implications for Comprehensive Systems Change

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Physical and emotional abuse is more than deplorable. It also can lead to health problems, ranging from depression to diabetes to premature death, and adds some $100 billion a year to the Nation’s health care costs. Most alarming, it is far from an isolated occurrence.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 60 percent of American adults say they lived with abuse and other difficult family situations, otherwise known as adverse childhood experiences.1 Those experiences can have long-range health consequences. Valerie J. Edwards, team lead for the Adverse Childhood Experiences Team at CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, notes that “adverse childhood experiences are associated with a higher risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, substance abuse, and premature death.”

The annual financial burden to society of childhood abuse and trauma is a whopping $103 billion according to a 2007 Federal Economic Impact Study. The costs include annual direct costs such as hospitalization, mental health care system, child welfare service, and law enforcement, as well as indirect costs such as special education, juvenile delinquency, mental health and health care, adult criminal justice system, and lost productivity.

Participants on this training teleconference will hear from leaders who are: a trauma survivor; a parent whose child experienced undetected sexual abuse; and a clinical psychologist investigating the relationship between spirituality, recovery, and well-being. These leaders are dedicated to comprehensive systems change, including preventing harm and inadvertent retraumatization, and ensuring that services and supports are welcoming, engaging, and culturally attuned. The goal is to help facilitate the healing process among people who have experienced abuse so that they can become fully engaged in their communities.

Training Objectives

  • To examine the impact of trauma on health, behavioral health, social systems, and premature death and the relevance to the SAMHSA 10 x 10 Wellness Campaign.
  • To understand the gender-specific effects of trauma and the approaches to promoting healing.
  • To understand the impact of trauma among racially and ethnically diverse populations, the cultural relevancy of peer support, and other community-based responses to promoting empowerment and systems change.


Cathy Cave
Cave is a Senior Program Associate at Advocates for Human Potential and a Founding Partner of Unlimited Mindfulness Consulting. She has more than 25 years of experience as a service provider and consultant in the areas of mental health, disaster response, child welfare, developmental disabilities, and juvenile justice. She is committed to mentoring organizations in supervision, leadership development, strength-based approaches, navigating relationships, trauma-informed care, understanding oppression, community collaboration, and cultural and linguistic competence.

Cave’s work is influenced by personal experience: She is a trauma survivor, and she is both a parent of and a sibling to individuals who struggle with mental health problems. She has partnered with consumers, survivors, families, and providers to coordinate collaborative, respectful, community-based initiatives for families, survivors of sexual trauma, and parents with psychiatric disabilities. The former Director for Cultural Competence at the New York State Office of Mental Health, Cave participates in workgroups throughout New York and nationwide to bring the principles of cultural competence and trauma-informed care to the practice level throughout behavioral health and child welfare systems. Cave is an advisor to SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care.

Roger D. Fallot, Ph.D.
Fallot is a clinical psychologist and Director of Research and Evaluation at Community Connections, the largest not-for-profit mental health agency serving people in the Nation’s capital. The author of numerous clinical and research articles, Fallot is a contributing author and co-editor of “New Directions for Mental Health Services, Using Trauma Theory to Design Service Systems.” 2 He consults on the development of trauma-informed cultures of care in human services. A member of SAMHSA’s Advisory Committee for Women’s Services, Fallot was Principal Investigator on the District of Columbia Trauma Collaboration Study, a SAMHSA-funded research project examining the effectiveness of integrated services for women trauma survivors with mental health and substance abuse problems. He and a group of clinicians at Community Connections have developed a men’s version of the Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model, a group intervention for working with survivors of physical and sexual abuse. Fallot is also interested in the relationships among spirituality, recovery, and well-being. He also edited and contributed chapters to “New Directions for Mental Health Services, Spirituality and Religion in Recovery from Mental Illness.” 3

Fallot holds a bachelor of arts, master of sciences, and Ph.D. from Yale University. His professional areas of specialization include the development and evaluation of services for trauma survivors and the role of spirituality in recovery.

Ann Jennings, Ph.D.
To call Jennings’ work a personal mission would be an understatement. After the suicide of her daughter—following years of treatment for sexual abuse as a child, of which her mother was unaware—Jennings founded The Anna Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing childhood trauma and sexual abuse, and the provision of resources for professional, community, and survivor use. Jennings has spent more than 25 years raising public awareness and influencing fundamental change in how service systems view and treat people with histories of unaddressed childhood trauma.

As Director of Maine’s Office of Trauma Services―the Nation’s first such State-system office―for 8 years, she initiated projects bringing trauma-informed trainings and services to numerous agencies throughout Maine. She consults nationally and has written numerous articles and documents including On Being Invisible In the Mental Health System,4 which introduced the concept of retraumatization; In Their Own Words: Trauma Survivors and Professionals They Trust Tell What Hurts, What Helps and What Is Needed for Trauma Services,5 created in collaboration with Dr. Ruth Ralph of the University of Maine; The Damaging Consequences of Violence and Trauma6; and Models for Developing Trauma-Informed Behavioral Health Systems and Trauma-Specific Services.7

Jennings holds a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a master’s degree in education from Marywood College, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Union Institute.

1 United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report,” December 2010.

2 Jossey-Bass, April 2001.

3 Jossey-Bass, December 1998.

4 Published in "Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research" 21(4): 374-387, 1994.

5 Maine Trauma Advisory Groups Report, 1997.

6 Prepared for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and the National Technical Assistance Center for State Mental Health Planning (NTAC), supported by a Contract between the Division of State and Community Systems Development, Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and NASMHPD, 2004.

7 Ibid.

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