September 27, 2017
From Lauren Conn, Wraparound Youth Support Partner, Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon; Co-chair, Oregon Trauma Advocated Coalition
Youth Experiences in the Emergency Room
As a teen, I attempted suicide multiple times and frequently went to the emergency room for suicidal ideation. These experiences were scary and confusing—the worst were re-traumatizing and even the best felt disempowering.
Currently, I work with teens as a wraparound youth partner—while some youth report positive emergency room experiences to me, other youth describe traumatic experiences that occurred during emergency room visits and how these have negatively impacted their mental health and willingness to ask for help in the future. Our youth deserve consistently better experiences—while going to the emergency room will likely never be an enjoyable experience for anyone, youth should be receiving trauma informed care. One way to address this issue is to find ways to empower young people and give them tools to increase their chances of having a trauma informed experience at the emergency room.
OTAC’s Work to Empower Youth in the Emergency Room
I am a co-chair for Oregon Trauma Advocates Coalition (OTAC), Trauma Informed Oregon’s youth advisory council which is made up of youth and young adults with lived experience. In July, our group released a tip sheet, Youth Engagement in the Emergency Room that offers ideas for emergency room providers on how to engage with youth in a trauma informed way.
Our next project was to create a tip sheet that youth can use to empower themselves during a visit to the emergency department. Making Your Voice Heard: Suggestions for youth by youth for use in emergency rooms is available as a poster and a wallet card. OTAC members utilized their lived experience to create this tip sheet and vetted it through other youth groups. Topics include ways to collaborate and engage with providers and ways to get your needs met. Our hope is that this tool will help youth make their voices heard while in the emergency room and reduce re-traumatizing experiences.
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