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We need to talk about Trauma

Trauma and mental health issues. It's everywhere in society, and on the rise throughout the lockdown and pandemic. In this blog post we find out what trauma is, how it's appearing in our loved ones, and get our top tip on how to support someone affected by trauma.

There's some evidence to suggest that as a result of the pandemic, people have been experiencing trauma-like symptoms. According to the Tavistock,

A trauma occurs when when our usual way of coping and managing our day to day experiences is overwhelmed. It is frightening, and we feel helpless.

A new survey has found that under 25s are bearing the brunt of mental health issues relating to COVID-19, with parents (especially mothers) next most affected.

What do those mental health issues look like? According to the survey, young people are experiencing:

  • Job losses

  • Increased risk of unemployment due to furlough

  • Loss of interest in daily activities

  • Increased inability to concentrate

  • Increased levels of anxiety

This survey was conducted before the recent issues with A Level and GCSE results, where many young people experienced devastating grade changes, entirely changing their course of study plans. One parent described it to me as,

Horrible, just horrible. Our daughter and her friends thought they knew what was happening next, but to have the rug pulled from under their feet in this way is just devastating.

The first two bullets above point to the reasons as to why young people are experiencing these symptoms. The next three point to what their symptoms are - and these three symptoms are found in people with anxiety or depression..

How do we look after people who are experiencing anxiety or trauma-like symptoms?

Supporting young people and their parents who are experiencing these symptoms requires a slightly different approach than traditional therapy. We can treat the why with practical help: support from employers and careers advisers.

But how do we treat what is happening? The difference between the symptoms experienced during the pandemic and similar experiences treated more generally is that the symptoms experienced during the pandemic could be the result of experiencing trauma. This means their symptoms are being experienced:

  • Acutely (the symptoms have come on suddenly and in a noticeable way), and

  • To a point where it’s affecting everyday life

Read on to find out how you can help...

Our top tip

When someone is experiencing the symptoms described above, the most important thing to do is to listen to them, and listen carefully. If someone has experienced trauma, their entire world view has been turned upside down. Listening to someone and showing you’ve heard and understood what they’ve said is the most powerful, important thing you can do for them. Talk to someone in a private space that’s quiet and has few distractions. Make sure you’ve allowed lots of time to talk and that you aren’t in a rush or need to be somewhere else.

How can NLMT help if you’re experiencing symptoms?

We are trained in Psychological First Aid, which is a preferred method of working with those who have experienced trauma. We offer as much music therapy as someone thinks they need, meaning you have enough time to get to know your therapist, experience making music as part of your therapy and seeing how it can help you. We’ve got spaces for new referrals in Finchley, Edmonton, Highgate and Hatch End and are still running online sessions too. To refer yourself, fill out a copy of our referral form.

How can NLMT help if you’re looking after people affected by COVID-19?

Our popular workshop Understanding Trauma during COVID-19 is coming back on Tuesday 23rd September, 7-9pm. Using theory from music therapy, medicine, neuroscience and psychoanalysis, our training gives you a comprehensive guide as to what you should look for in someone who has experienced trauma, why it’s happening and how to work with symptoms to the most benefit for your patients.

To get music therapy, contact us here

Book your ticket for Understanding Trauma during COVID-19 here

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