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How to find help with healing from childhood trauma

Childhood trauma affects millions of Americans every year, and the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the impact. With many kids out of in-person schooling and isolated from the support systems that can normally offer help, it’s harder than ever to know what’s happening behind closed doors.

There are a number of events that can create trauma, from physical or sexual abuse to gun violence or divorce. And though not everyone responds the same way, many will experience symptoms like depression, anxiety and behavioral issues. These symptoms can affect the way children behave in school, interact with their peers and relate to their parents or caregiver. And these symptoms can — and often do — continue into adulthood if left untreated.

While reporting for our series “Invisible Scars: America’s Childhood Trauma Crisis,” the PBS NewsHour came across a number of resources that could be useful to any family that has experienced a traumatic event. Childhood trauma is a complicated issue and the path to recovery is not one-size-fits-all, but this list can serve as a starting point for those seeking help.

-Get your child connected with a therapist.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has links for finding help and affiliates in every state you can call to help guide you through the process.

-Call your state’s Department of Public Health’s mental health division.

They can help you figure out how to find services in your area and how to get financial aid to pay for them.

-Explore financial assistance.

If you are the victim of a crime and there is a police report of the incident, you can potentially get funding for mental health costs related to trauma. Visit the website for the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards, when you can find requirements for compensation in each state and contact information.

-Get tools as a caregiver.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a guide for parents, caregivers and teachers on how to help children of all ages who have experienced a potentially traumatic event. The Child Mind Institute in New York City also has a guide for parents who are seeking to help their children recover and it includes signs of trauma. These guides are available in multiple languages.

-Help guard against trauma.

If you’re pregnant or a new parent and think you could benefit from guidance on how to help your child become more resilient against trauma, check out the organization HealthySteps and find out if they are located at a pediatrician’s office near you. Or check out this guide to help with prevention at home.

-Look outside the box.

Justice Resource Institute has more than 100 programs that do specialized, trauma-informed work, particularly for those with special education needs. They have a service navigator you can call to figure out the provider in your area. JRI also has a Trauma-Sensitive Yoga program; their site includes a few videos on practicing trauma-sensitive yoga on your own.