Day after day, we are exposed to first- and second-hand traumas in our communities and in the world around us. Adrienne Wise, Community of Hope's Director of Emotional Wellness, shares about the importance of emotional wellness and some best practices to help process grief and suffering.
To address this, Community of Hope uses a trauma-informed care lens throughout all our services – not just in our emotional wellness. In 2018, we formed a trauma-informed care team which focuses on providing quality care, destigmatizing mental health, educating the community, and introducing emotional wellness to groups that are less represented in care such as children, men, and young adults.
The focus on emotional wellness takes a holistic approach to mental health through awareness, understanding, and acceptance of emotions and one's ability to manage effectively through challenges and change.
Moving from mental health to emotional wellness is a priority because of the stigma that mental health carries.
"In the Black community, when many people think about mental health, they think about [pejorative terms like] ‘crazy’ and needing to take medications,” says Adrienne. “There’s a long history of mistrust around medications stemming from cases like the Tuskegee experiment."
Adrienne saw this stigma firsthand growing up, since mental health was not taken seriously in her family. “There was a lack of faith in the systems managing mental health, which caused people not to get the appropriate care they needed, resulting in suffering,” says Adrienne.
After experiencing the impacts of an inequitable system, Adrienne majored in community counseling. Her first roles were in foster care and adoption, providing child-based therapy. Later, Adrienne worked in a jail and then offered her services to the military before coming to Community of Hope in 2017.
She now leads the Emotional Wellness team – a role she feels great pride in. Her work is especially critical as the world begins to recognize the need to care for the emotional component of a whole-body approach – due to global and national traumatic events along with the continued pressure of the pandemic. Throughout the last two and half years, Community of Hope has continued to provide consistent emotional wellness services despite any barriers brought on by the pandemic.
“We never stopped serving our community during the pandemic, and our emotional wellness services have grown,” says Adrienne. "We went nearly 100% virtual at first, but in August of 2021, we transitioned to a hybrid model to offer telehealth and in-person services."
In light of recent tragedies, Adrienne shared a few tips on processing and dealing with trauma. Traumatic events can leave people feeling triggered and depressed. Emotional wellness is not only for individuals and families but also for communities as a collective. There is not just one solution to achieve emotional wellness, but Adrienne knows many tools are available to overcome the darkest of days.
Tips to deal with trauma:
Sometimes trauma isn't experienced right away. Acknowledge and accept whatever your immediate responses are to a negative experience.
It's okay to have whatever feelings you have.
Find positive sources of support to communicate those feelings. Now is the time to talk about those feelings and get that out.
Be mindful of things that may be changing within you.
Everyone's response time to loss and trauma are not the same.
Pay attention to changes in you. If you are losing sleep or your appetite changes, recognize your responses in the body.
Keep routines in place and positive normalcies.
If someone feels they can no longer address their trauma on their own, do not be afraid to seek professional support. Therapy may not be what a person thinks they need. It's important to look for what works for you to be more well.