Trauma Services in Schools

A school reflects society. Within a school's walls are especially vulnerable students, such as those with pre-existing mental disorders, or those with histories of neglect, trauma, or violence. There are also at-risk students, such as students who are living in poverty, students who are ethnic and racial minorities, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students. 

Schools are well positioned to help these traumatized students. Due to their regular contact with students, teachers and school staff are more likely to be aware of a child’s victimization than are other authorities such as doctors and police. Although some might argue that teachers should focus solely on academics, the reality is that teachers can't teach effectively if their students are not able to focus on learning. Students cannot learn effectively when they are burdened by the effects of trauma or when they do not have strong communication and emotion regulation skills.

School services can be especially important for underserved ethnic minority youth, who are less likely to receive mental health care. Few ethnic minority youth living in under-resourced neighborhoods receive mental health services to address the negative developmental outcomes from trauma.

Access to evidence-based interventions in the school setting as a response to trauma of any kind can reduce or eliminate the need for a student to receive future mental-health services. Students who are exposed to evidence-based interventions and the support of a trauma-informed school can acquire skills that can contribute to stronger resilience.


  Trauma services are vital in schools, according to Lisa Jaycox.