Advocacy & Policy
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Advocacy and Policy

Trauma professionals bring rich clinical experience and solid empirical evidence to bear on key questions of how local, national, and international society responds to trauma and its victims.  ISTSS and its members engage in advocacy to ensure that the voices of those affected by trauma are heard by policymakers. 


In 1997, then-editor Arthur Blank, MD wrote in Stress Points: "Most readers are familiar with the remarkable emergence of recognition and treatment for trauma patients, including survivors of the full range of traumatic events -- war, sexual abuse, assault, disasters, torture, etc.  What is too easily forgotten is that these developments followed years of advocacy by public officials, mental health professionals, patients and others. ...There is no trauma field without advocacy."

ISTSS Members Making a Difference

  • ISTSS member Joop de Jong, MD, PhD established the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO),  one of the largest relief organizations specializing in mental health and psychosocial care of traumatized, (post-)conflict and post-disaster populations. His work has influenced mental health programs and policy in countries across Africa, Asia, and Europe.  He is advisor to the Dutch government and the UN.
  • ISTSS members play key roles in the European Network for Traumatic Stress (TENTS) project co-founded by the European Union.  TENTS and the TENTS-Training and Practice project (TENTS-TP) are having an impact on policy and practice by creating a core curriculum and guidelines for training and by building Europe-wide networks of expertise on the psychosocial management of victims of natural and other disasters.
  • ISTSS members Jane Herlihy, PhD and Stuart Turner, MD, and their colleagues have undertaken systematic research into the ways that judges making asylum claim determinations in the UK understand the narratives told by asylum seekers, who have often experienced significant trauma. The results of this work are disseminated to inform legal decision making.

Do you know of ISTSS members who are making a difference in policy or public awareness related to trauma?  Send your story to the ISTSS Web Editor.

ISTSS members interested in advocacy and policy can join the Human Rights and Social Policy Special Interest Group (SIG)

ISTSS at the United Nations

The ISTSS commitment to the international dimensions of traumatic stress renders its involvement with the work of the United Nations an integral part of its mission.  Since 1993, ISTSS has worked with the United Nations to provide education and resources to guide practice and public policy in countries torn by exposure to traumatic events.

ISTSS is in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. ISTSS has three member representatives involved in the work of the United Nations.

Learn more about the work of ISTSS at the United Nations 

ISTSS Activity

The ISTSS leadership is joining numerous other organizations in a campaign to United States Senate leadership expressing opposition to S. 1347, the "Conference Accountability Act of 2014." This legislation passed out of the United States Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on July 30, 2014.  A House version of the bill (H.R.313) has already passed that chamber.  Should this bill advance and be enacted, it would place further burdens on already onerous restrictions that have impeded US federal scientists from participating in scientific meetings and conferences.

ISTSS Public Policy Committee

The ISTSS Public Policy Committee addresses policy issues that directly relate to the society's mission, with priority given to issues that are of broad global interest and relevance.

In 2010 the ISTSS Public Policy Committee convened a small international expert working group of ISTSS members to draft a statement articulating the organization's expertise regarding combat-related PTSD and the importance of appropriate recognition and treatment for these invisible wounds of war.

In 2008 ISTSS co-sponsored a US congressional briefing entitled "Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Service Members, Veterans, and their Families: Innovative Strategies for Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery"

Find books and articles about Advocacy and Policy

The ISTSS Amazon store has books about Advocacy and Policy and many other topics for trauma professionals. Purchases made via the ISTSS Amazon store help to support ISTSS. Search the Journal of Traumatic Stress for relevant papers