New River Valley Resiliency Network works to create more trauma-informed communities

Governor Ralph Northam has declared May 2-8, 2021 Resiliency Week.
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 5:49 AM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - May is Mental Health Awareness month. Along with that, Governor Ralph Northam has declared this week Resiliency Week in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Resiliency Week is dedicated to helping Virginians become trauma-informed communities to create healthy and stigma-free environments.

In the U.S., about 44 million adults have some kind of mental illness. And because the pandemic has increased those numbers, a bigger emphasis has been placed on the importance of mental health.

“I think it really brought a lens and people realizing that trauma affects the brain,” said Andi Golusky, the NRV Resiliency Network chair. “And that a traumatic incident can affect someone in great ways and in their every day lives.”

Even seemingly minor events can shape our brains’ response mechanisms the same way major incidents do.

“From a child being bit by a dog to being in an earthquake, it doesn’t matter because how those traumas can impact those individuals can look very similar.”

Organizations within the New River Valley created the NRV Resiliency Network, which formally launched this week.

“As practitioners and as folks in the mental health business, we know about trauma,” Golusky said. “But we really want to get the word out to community members, businesses, things like that.”

It’s part of the network’s mission to help create a trauma-informed and more understanding community.

“And so I think it’s really important that we are asking that question, ‘What happened to you?’ Not, ‘What’s wrong with you?’

All this week, the Network has been focusing on themes that play a major role in resiliency.

“Diversity, equity, inclusion; happiness and kindness; grief and loss,” she said. “And we want to inform the community how those things are connected to resiliency and how we can become a more resilient community.”

Because with nearly 1 in 5 Americans being diagnosed with a mental health condition every year, you never know when you’re going to come across someone who needs that extra dose of compassion in their day.

“Since we can see mental health and we can’t see trauma often, I think it’s really important that we’re getting the message out in these ways,” Golusky said.

Something else that trauma can impact is our physical health too; from diabetes to obesity to even heart conditions and cancer.

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