Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14. And more than two-thirds of young people report experiencing at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. There are dire consequences to these numbers IF they’re not addressed. As researchers point out, untreated traumatic stress and mental health can lead to school dropouts, suicide and more. For these reasons and others, a number of teens in Rochester are fighting back against these statistics to help their peers not only develop the skills they need to survive but to also provide them with the means to heal. The teens are youth organizers with Rochester’s Teen Empowerment and they’re hosting a series of workshops this summer for teens, by teens addressing trauma and mental health.

When he was running for Congress, Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden said that young people do not value life the way they should. He said that addressing violence is more complex than simply passing new laws.

We talk to him about trauma-informed care, and the complex solutions to violence in our community.

Trauma affects families of all ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and it can be the result of a number of factors: crimes against humanity; terrorism; natural disasters; poverty; and more. While scientists have studied its impact on victims’ mental and physical health, research on the impact and scope of multigenerational trauma is just beginning to receive more attention. Scientists point to epigenetic changes in the DNA of families affected by trauma, suggesting that stress in the older generation translates into an adaptation adopted by the next generation.

So what does this mean for the development of trauma-informed care? And how can we help families affected by trauma in our community, especially those living in poverty? This is the subject of an upcoming talk at Hillside Family of Agencies.* Our guests preview that talk and discuss the broad effects of multigenerational trauma.

  • Dr. Yael Danieli, clinical psychologist, victimologist, traumatologist, and co-founder and director of the Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children
  • Ruth Turner, executive director of student support services for the Rochester City School District
  • Monica Devine-Haley, clinician at Hillside Children’s Center
  • Megan Bell, executive director of the Wilson Foundation