The Trauma Service was set up to offer more help for those children and young people who had experienced a death of someone they knew in a traumatic way, like murder, suicide or other sudden death. In situations like this they may show signs that they are not going through the usual feelings of sadness and grief but may have extra problems that might suggest a bigger problem which is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We aim, through our work with young people, to help them come to terms with the events that have happened and to reduce any symptoms they might have.
The Trauma Service is also able to support some children in Luton Borough who might have experienced or witnessed other distressing events, including sexual abuse and domestic violence. Often events like these can leave children with upsetting memories that seem to play over and over in their minds and can cause changes in mood, behavioural problems, anxiety, and disturb their sleep with nightmares. We are also working with child refugees or asylum seekers to help them sort out the upsetting events they have experienced as they have fled their home country to come to the UK.
Why do symptoms of trauma last so long?
Scientists are still researching this question but the view at the moment is that when traumas or distressing events occur it disrupts the way our brain processes and stores information. Normal memories are formed when the brain brings together all the information from the senses and files it away in our memory. This is similar to the coloured memory balls that are used in the animated movie “Inside Out”.
When traumatic events happen this normal process (or way of doing things) gets disrupted. At these times our body and brain reacts to keep us safe and the things we see, hear, taste, touch and smell, that would normally make the memory, are saved in another part of the brain but not put together as a complete memory. Having bits of the traumatic memory floating around is a bit like having a jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing.