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ISTSS Briefing Papers

Traumatic stress is a public health issue that warrants research, practice and policy at all levels from community clinics to national and international governing agencies. To help frame and promote traumatic stress as a public health issue to colleagues, policymakers and the general public, ISTSS authors papers on trauma-related topics. By promoting public awareness and informing public policy on trauma-related issues, ISTSS hopes to contribute to the health and resilience of people and communities in the face of traumatic events.

Improving Access in LMICs

In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), the mental health consequences of trauma ‎exposure pose a substantial personal, societal, and economic burden. Yet, the significant ‎need for evidence-based mental health treatment remains largely unmet. To unlock the ‎potential for mental health care for trauma survivors in lower-resource contexts, it is critical ‎to recognize obstacles to receiving treatment and identify strategies to improve access to ‎evidence-supported interventions.‎

Global Climate Change and Trauma

Effective and feasible methods for mitigating the impacts of climate change already exist and, if promptly and appropriately implemented, have the potential of preventing trauma for generations. This briefing paper serves to highlight currently available evidence and the evidence and action needed in order to prioritize, promote, and protect the mental health and well-being of people, communities, and societies in the face of climate change.

Global Perspectives on the Trauma of Hate-Based Violence

There is an urgent need to understand and respond to the health needs of survivors of hate-based violence. Manifestations of prejudice and hate occur all over the world. Hate-based violence is defined as violence against a person that is motivated by bias and prejudice against the person’s perceived group membership (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013; Green, McFalls, & Smith, 2001; Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, 2010).

Sexual Assault and Harassment

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse, unwanted sexual contact and rape experience elevated risk for multiple psychological disorders, including PTSD. Trauma-focused psychotherapeutic interventions have the strongest evidence base for the treatment of psychological distress associated with sexual assault and abuse.

Trauma and Mental Health in Forcibly Displaced Populations

As of the end of 2016, there were over 65 million people forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of conflict and persecution. The experiences of conflict, persecution and forced displacement have a pervasive negative impact on the mental health of refugees and asylum-seekers. There is global recognition of a growing need to understand and meet the mental health needs of refugees and asylum-seekers worldwide.

White Paper: A Public Health Approach to Trauma

Exposure to trauma is pervasive in societies worldwide. Trauma refers to events that involve actual or threatened risk of death, serious injury, or sexual violation. Common traumatic events include interpersonal violence (e.g., physical abuse by caregivers, intimate partner violence, assault), rape, sexual assault, life-threatening accidents or injuries, natural disasters, civil conflict, and terrorist attacks. War-related traumatic events are also commonly experienced, both by combatants and civilians in regions experiencing armed conflict.