‘Typical’ Trauma Reactions - Referrals

Identification and referral of students who need mental health assistance

  • Counselors/psychologists/social workers will need to assess whether the student was directly or indirectly exposed to a perceived or real traumatic event.
  • Assess symptoms including re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoidance, emotional numbing, increased arousal, sleep and appetite disturbance, etc.
  • Are the symptoms interfering with the student’s functioning?
  • Is there any evidence of suicidal behavior (thoughts, threats, actions)?
  • Have intense symptoms lasted more than a month? more than 3 months?
  • Is the child at risk due to other environmental factors or previous trauma?
  • Has the student exhibited significant behavior changes?
  • Student exhibits a high level of emotionality after the majority of peers return to more typical behavior.
  • Students intentionally hurting themselves, or having an increase in other self-harming behaviors, including abusing alcohol/drugs, may need a referral.
  • Students who do not improve with the individual and group interventions school personnel are able to provide may also need a referral.
  • Is the student at risk due to a known pre-existing mental health problem?

Ongoing concerns with children exposed to violence

Exposure to violence leads to the following consequences:

  • Decreased IQ and reading ability (Delaney-Black et al., 2003)
  • Lower grade point average (Hurt et al., 2001)
  • Higher absenteeism (Beers and De Belis, 2002)
  • Decreased rates of high school graduation (Grogger 1997)
  • Significant deficits in attention, abstract reasoning, long-term memory for verbal information, decreased IQ, and decreased reading ability (Beers and De Belis, 2002)