Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. For some, the aftermath of trauma may manifest as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a debilitating condition characterized by persistent and intrusive symptoms. There are several complexities of trauma and PTSD that shed light on the challenges faced by those affected and offer insights into the journey of healing and recovery.

Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in schools are significant mental health challenges that can affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds, including college students, faculty, and staff. The college environment, with its academic pressures, social dynamics, and transitions, can exacerbate symptoms of trauma and PTSD, impacting individuals’ well-being and ability to thrive. In this blog post, we’ll explore the prevalence of trauma and PTSD in college communities and discuss strategies for supporting students, faculty, and staff who may be affected by these conditions.

Research suggests that a large percentage of college students have experienced traumatic events at some point in their lives. According to a study published in the Journal of American College Health, approximately 60% of college students reported experiencing at least one traumatic event in school, with the most common being the sudden death of a loved one, physical assault, or serious accident.

Understanding School Trauma and School PTSD

Trauma can occur as a result of various events, including but not limited to:

  1. Physical or sexual assault
  2. Combat exposure
  3. Natural disasters
  4. Accidents
  5. Witnessing violence
  6. Childhood abuse or neglect

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD may experience a range of symptoms, including: 

  1. Intrusive Memories: Recurrent, distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, or intense emotional distress triggered by reminders of the trauma.
  2. Avoidance: Avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, including places, people, activities, or conversations that evoke distressing memories or emotions.
  3. Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood: Persistent negative beliefs about oneself, others, or the world, feelings of detachment or estrangement from others, and a diminished interest in activities once enjoyed.
  4. Hyperarousal: Persistent symptoms of increased arousal or reactivity, such as irritability, anger outbursts, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, and exaggerated startle response.


The Path to Recovery

Recovering from school trauma and school PTSD is a deeply personal journey that requires time, patience, and support. While healing looks different for everyone, there are several key components to the recovery process:

  1. Seek Professional Help: It’s essential to seek help from a qualified mental health professional experienced in treating trauma-related conditions. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and exposure therapy, can help individuals process traumatic memories, challenge negative beliefs, and develop coping skills to manage symptoms.
  2. Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family members, or peers who can provide encouragement, understanding, and validation. Support groups or online communities for trauma survivors can also offer valuable connections and solidarity.
  3. Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, creative outlets, and healthy lifestyle habits.
  4. Set Realistic Goals: Break down your recovery journey into manageable steps and set realistic goals for yourself. Celebrate small victories along the way and be patient with yourself as you navigate the ups and downs of healing.
  5. Establish Boundaries: Learn to recognize and set boundaries to protect your emotional and physical well-being. It’s okay to say no to situations or relationships that feel triggering or unsafe.

At the Virtual Care Group, we meticulously design personalized plans for each campus, guaranteeing that students, faculty, and staff experience unwavering support 24/7, 365 days a year. Our licensed counselors are committed to assisting your campus community on their journey towards healing and achieving success. Schedule a demo today!