Lionhearted – When Trauma Goes Viral
Lionhearted: Working together towards a higher standard of trauma-informed care header, self-care issue March 2020Volume 5 • Issue 4 • #2 • April 2020

Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.

Courage & Inspiration

In times of crisis, we seek inspiration. Meet the challenge! Make a difference! But the principal demand of this pandemic is to isolate yourself. Where’s the inspiration for that?

A Hero’s Call…To Inaction

When politicians and public health experts encourage us to keep our distance, it’s not so much a call to action as a call to inaction. Social distancing is calculated to “flatten the curve.” It’s rational, important and effective. Yet it’s so hard to stay energized around doing it! You receive no recognition for putting your life on pause. There is no medal for having three consecutive dinners of soup. In short, staying at home is hardly an act of nobility.

Or is it? Kwame Anthony Appiah, “The Ethicist” of the New York Times, thinks it is. “Heroes are not people who take unnecessary risks. They are people who respond intelligently to a challenge, assessing the likelihoods of hazards and benefits, and making a judgment about which chances are worth taking. As Aristotle put it, courage means that you ‘endure or fear the right things and for the right purpose and in the right manner and at the right time.’”

Healthcare workers, Appiah points out, “have been working long hours with inadequate supplies, while dealing with the stressful possibility of falling ill themselves, of infecting their families or of spreading the virus to their patients.” This inspires in us both courage and gratitude. More than just doing our part, social distancing is it is a way of showing our gratitude and solidarity.

Lungs, Brain, Mind, and Spirit

You may picture healthcare workers masked and gowned in an ER. But if coronavirus targets the lungs, its broader impact is on the human brain, mind and spirit. This is what Uplift Family Services staff are now addressing: on the front line with customers, and with the supervision and administrative support that make front-line service possible.

Why do our staff do this? Where’s the inspiration?

We are all stressed by this crisis, but our customers were already stressed when the virus came along. As Doctors Nadine Burke Harris and Karen Mark said in March, “People already experiencing stress in their lives are likely to be more significantly affected by additional stressors. A compounding factor in our current situation is the abrupt displacement of buffering support systems of family and friends, coworkers, community, schools, and providers due to social distancing.”

To meet the essential needs of customers, Uplift staff pivoted in a matter of days from providing support, skills-training, resourcing and treatment in-person to making those services available via phone and audiovisual platforms. Also, because remote services alone are sometimes not enough, safety protocols for in-person services have been established and personal protective equipment is being acquired for specified programs.

Uplift staff know the devastation of mental illness, trauma, substance abuse, and inadequate resources. They know the consequences of adding even more stress: misery, fear, abuse and even suicide. They care deeply. They know very well the difference they themselves can make. From knowledge comes inspiration. From compassion, courage.

Apart, Together

We owe a debt of gratitude to all professionals addressing urgent human needs, whether by phone, online or in-person. Let us allow their example to inspire the rest of us. Let it remind us that the least we can do are the simple, boring yet effective acts of remaining at home, staying six feet apart, washing our hands and covering up when we cough.

Please continue to recognize and support one another. Stay home but stay close. Keep apart, and keep it together.

Help your community during the COVID-19 crisis

Uplift Family Services remains a critical resource for our children and families. Our incredible staff continue to deliver services to children and parents and assess their evolving needs during this pandemic.