Cincinnati City Council Meeting 2/24/22

Good afternoon, Mayor Pureval and City Council members,

I stand before you today as the Executive Director of the Tristate Trauma Network, a grass-roots initiative that developed approximately 8 years ago out of a need for our mental health professionals to better understand, and to provide better care for, trauma survivors. This came from and was driven by the mental health agencies in the Greater Cincinnati area. It has grown from an advisory group to a true network of professionals, not just in the mental health arena, but in all areas of social services: homeless services, developmental disabilities services, juvenile justice, peer recovery support, to highlight a few; and in speech, occupational, and massage therapy, as well as in education. And we didn’t go looking for these folks, they found us out of NEED, a dire need to understand and help the individuals they serve on a daily basis who’ve experienced trauma. You’ve heard the stats by now, over 70% of the general population has experienced an adverse childhood event that affects them well into adulthood. If you look to your right and to your left and then look within, that’s either you and 1 person next to you or both the people sitting next to you. I have always said this is an “us” phenomenon, not a “them” phenomenon. But there are some groups who are overrepresented, as you’ve heard from others here today. If you’ve been through a trauma, you know how that feels. I, too, know how that feels, but I had the “luxury” of experiencing trauma as an adult, not a child. When I think about what I went through, and I think about all the children I’ve worked with as a mental health therapist in my career in community mental health for 20 years, I know the pain it is causing our children in this community. I see it in their eyes, in their behaviors: in their acting out and shutting down, in their tears, in their anger, in their fear that doesn’t go away, and in their worldviews.

Exactly two years ago, I stood before a group in Columbus and tried, along with some others, to put a sense of urgency to declaring a state of emergency on childhood trauma. I told them, “this is the time, we can’t wait any longer, and we are ready.” Throw a pandemic into the equation and two years later, we are ALL worse for the wear. Our children are suffering more and still can’t get the help they need. Additionally, the adults serving them (teachers, mental health professionals, social workers, therapists of all kinds, and parents) are over-stressed too and need more support.

What I know, in my unique position, is that there are thousands of professionals dedicated to this cause, and thousands of others who want to learn more and do better by trauma survivors. We have the formula. But it takes money and time, and we run short on both. YOU have the ability to bring this to the forefront of the city, to make it a priority, to be the catalyst for relief from the emotional and physical pain that comes with toxic stress and trauma. I urge you to use your positions to do just that. Thank you.

Melissa Adamchik, MA, LPP, Executive Director of the Tristate Trauma Network