Other Youth Topics


  1. Youth Topics
  2. Mental Health
  3. Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-Informed Care

Understanding trauma and how traumatic events can affect young people is essential when promoting recovery and resilience and ensuring that young people are not retraumatized through experiences with human service systems. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a working definition of trauma:

Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.1

In May 2013, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and SAMHSA hosted a webinar entitled "Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach for Youth Across Service Sectors," which featured three content experts nationally known in their field: Eugene Griffin, J.D., Ph.D., Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine; Julian Ford, Ph.D., University of Connecticut, School of Medicine; and Charles Wilson, MSSW, Chadwick Center for Children and Families Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego, California; all of whom have been supported by SAMHSA trauma-focused grants. Additionally, the webinar included two youth presenters, NC and LS, who spoke about their own lived experience and the importance of trauma-informed care. Both youth are referred to only by initials to protect their privacy. NC is a peer specialist and LS is a law student.

Webinar Resources:


SAMHSA's Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach (PDF, 27 pages)
This paper introduces SAMHSA’s concept of trauma and offers a framework for how an organization, system, or service sector can become trauma informed by integrating the perspectives of researchers, practitioners, and people with experience of trauma.

SAMHSA’s KSOC-TV: Trauma-Informed Approaches to Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health
This webisode explored the principles of a trauma-informed approach and trauma-specific interventions designed to address the consequences of trauma among children, youth, and families.

Trauma-Informed Approaches: Federal Activities and Initiatives (PDF, 77 pages)
This report illustrates how trauma-informed approaches to serving women and girls have been implemented across more than a dozen federal agencies, departments, and offices through multiple projects, programs, and initiatives.

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2012


Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).