February 12, 2019

From Mandy Davis, LCSW, PhD, Director, Trauma Informed Oregon

My colleague, Ana Hristić, introduced me to the idea of vicarious resilience. Since hearing this I have appreciated pondering what this concept means and what it could look like. We often use the “put the mask on yourself first before assisting others” expression (thank you flight attendants) to emphasize the importance of self-care. I use this all the time professionally and personally but I am noticing that it is limited—and I think vicarious resilience means something different. The mask expression is saying that to be helpful to others you need to take care of yourself—an important lesson especially in acute situations. Whereas for me, vicarious resilience says that others may reap some benefit because I am caring for myself.

Here at TIO, with Ana’s guidance, we are piloting several activities to promote vicarious resilience and workforce wellness. We have a variety of activities because we know it is not a one-size-fits-all process and we often need to balance the needs of an individual with the needs of a team. Some of our strategies include: community engagement outings, regular meditation, peer-to-peer check-in, vacation accountability, face-to-face Friday, and group walks. We will be sharing how these activities work in hopes of informing your potential wellness plans.

I feel like I should title this blog, “Mandy’s Ponderings,” because I have a lot of thoughts and questions as we continue to dig deeper into what wellness means and for whom. So bear with me or jump to the fabulous blogs from the contributors, your colleagues in Oregon!

My images of wellness and resilience change over time (often throughout the day). Sometimes I see images of joy and sometimes images of strength, as though I can weather the storm, but often the images are of the supportive people in my life. I do think wellness is multidimensional (mind, body, spirit, relational, social) and likely developmental.

Wellness across the lifespan has me thinking a lot about how we talk about wellness at different stages of life. It seems when we are experiencing stressful times that this topic pops us. I think many of us recognize this approach is not sufficient. It is better than nothing, but having a jar full of wellness before a crisis happens is more effective. This is the narrative about wellness I want us to teach and practice across the lifespan. What are the best ways to do this? Some things to consider regarding wellness and vicarious resilience:

  • Do we hyper focus on one dimension over another based on our stage in life?
  • Can we talk not only about individual resilience but of family and community resilience?
  • Who has access to wellness practices and resources and who does not?
  • What does wellness look like and for whom? How is this defined and how can we ask about this?
  • Is the burden of wellness on the individual only? How do we as community members and organizations support wellness?

I am grateful to have wiser contributors who share their experiences addressing wellness. With strategies for our youngest community members to our oldest, including culturally specific applications and strategies for a workplace, we are always interested in your experiences so please share them here.

Helpful Blog Posts

OCDC Trainings for Adults that Focus on Children – Giving teachers, parents, partners, and coworkers strategies to help parents who in turn can help their children.

Wellness: Perspectives from Native Youth – Having self-care strategies in place when things get tough.

7 Trauma-Informed Workplace Wellness Practices to Strengthen Your Team – Using practices to create a positive, healthy work environment.

Trauma-Informed Care for Every Body – Providing a different perspective for the way we view our bodies.

Our History with Trauma Informed Care – Understanding the need for culturally specific healthcare to engage clients before they need help.

Giving Older Adults Voice and Choice in Their Care – Creating systems so older adults and people with disabilities feel valued and have a right to direct their care.

What’s Going on at TIO

  • SAVE the DATE – hosting a conference about TIC efforts in Oregon in Sunriver, OR on October 16 – 18, 2019.
  • Developed a 2-page fact sheet about Trauma Informed Oregon if you want to talk about what is happening in Oregon.
  • Working with national experts to think about what competencies are needed to practice TIC.
  • Filmed two more Voices from the Community videos.
  • Finishing up our fourth TIC online class (we’ve even had students from Jakarta and Japan).

Where We’ve Been:

We always enjoy being in the community to learn what is working and to be able to dive into the work. Some highlights have been attending the Youth Resilience Forum and the Oregon Foster Care Summit. It was an honor to attend and share a bit at the AHO We Can Do Better Conference and Trafficking Training Summit. I am grateful to have spent some time at the Tribal Attendance Pilot Project, Title VI Coordinators meeting, and with folks in central Oregon.

A couple of weeks ago I presented and attended the 2019 Chaos or Coordination Conference where people shared and grappled with the care coordination of older adults and adults with disabilities. Here is some important information.

Behavioral Health Challenges for Older Adults and People with Disabilities in Oregon and the United States

Recommendations to Improve Outcomes for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

The Behavioral Health Initiative is Making a Difference!

To Do List:

  1. Are you due for a health check up? Are you up to date on your health screenings?
  2. Are you remembering to floss? Finn is!
  3. Here are some videos about wellness. Let us know if you have others to share or add them to the discussion forum: