Seven local agencies that focus on community-based mental health services for children and youth – Acceset, Boys’ Town, Campus PSY, Caregivers Alliance Limited, Limitless, Singapore Association for Mental Health, and Singapore Children’s Society – have come together to launch Safe Circle.
Aligned around a shared vision of creating a safe, nurturing and trauma-informed community, Safe Circle provides training via complimentary talks and workshops for those who want to give a helping hand, empowering them to be more trauma informed, to better support trauma survivors.
Trauma is a commonly-overlooked aspect of one’s mental wellbeing and is more prevalent than we think. It comes in many forms (be it physical or emotional), and can be inflicted and manifested in a variety of ways that even the sufferer may not be aware of.
According to the study of Adverse Childhood Experiences, as part of the 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study, almost 2 in 3, or 64% of people in Singapore have reported experiencing at least one traumatic event during the first 18 years of their lives.
While the number seems high, we should bear in mind that actual numbers are likely higher than reported. Trauma incidents have increased significantly in the past decade, especially more so with the recent pandemic and lockdowns.
Moreover, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the immense stress it brings, and the increased period of time that people spend at home, a spike in domestic violence cases was reported within the first month of circuit breaker last year.
Asher Low, Executive Director, Limitless Singapore, said: “With the prevalence of trauma incidents, as a society, understanding how to identify and deal with trauma helps us play our part in helping survivors recover, feel safe and be empowered to find a voice, and make positive decisions and changes in their own lives. This is what Safe Circle aims to achieve.”
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Trauma Prevalence in Children in Singapore
In a study by the Ministry of Social and Family Development, there has been an increase in the number of child protection cases investigated over the years.
When children are exposed to events or situations that may cause trauma, they experience Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE).
Without trauma-education, it can be difficult to identify ACEs, particularly since most events tend to happen behind closed doors, or since the harmful effects of trauma can sometimes only manifest in adulthood.
People who have had an ACE are more likely to develop mental illnesses and physical diseases in later adulthood.
At Safe Circle, the collective aims to help families by providing them with the essential parenting skills and coping mechanisms to prevent any potential ACE for a child.
What is Safe Circle and How can Safe Circle Help?
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Safe Circle aims to increase awareness about trauma by empowering and equipping the community with knowledge of trauma, so that we are able to integrate trauma-informed care into our work and life. With a better-informed community, it will also reach out to those who suffered from trauma by offering them an avenue of help.
Safe Circle equips teachers, parents, social service professionals and young adults with knowledge and skills via workshops so that they are attuned to the needs of their students, children, clients, and peers, and are able to provide support to those suffering from psychological distress.
During these complimentary workshops, attendees will learn to identify trauma, understand how it may impact an individual, as well as how they can support a trauma survivor in their sphere of influence.
In addition, as part of the educational approach, Safe Circle also provides an ACEs quiz on the website to help the community better understand and identify ACEs and the effects it may have on the individuals.
For those looking to share more about trauma and trauma-informed care within their community, there is also an option to organize and arrange for a talk where a speaker can be part of your event and sharing sessions.
“Knowing the reality and prevalence of trauma and being able to identify trauma is just the start of how we can make our society a safer place for everyone. At Safe Circle, we are very committed to educating people from all walks of life, especially those who are working closely with youth and children, to be able to recognize, respond to trauma, and actively resist re-traumatization. We hope that by working towards a trauma-informed community, we will be able to mitigate the effects significantly reduce the prevalence of trauma in the near future,” said Ms Celynn Chang, Manager – Clinical Intervention Centre, Boy’s Town.
About The Workshops
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All workshops are free, and will be conducted and qualified professionals who have a comprehensive range of expertise and experience in addressing mental health issues.
Topics covered by the workshops include:
· Introduction to Trauma-informed care: Identifying and understanding trauma, what it looks like, its prevalence, and how it impacts the trauma survivor
· What Trauma Informed Care Entails: Why we should practice it, and the core principles behind being trauma informed
· How peer, parents, educators, and professionals can integrate trauma informed care into their individual spheres of influence
Complimentary workshops take place on a regular basis. To sign up for these complimentary workshops, or to find out more, please visit www.safecircle.sg or @safecircle.sg on Instagram.
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What is Trauma?
Trauma affects individuals of all ages, and can be inflicted by an event, a series of events, or set of circumstances that result in an individual being physically or emotionally affected – to the point of being life-threatening.
These can impact your ability to function on a day-to-day basis, or even fester and cause lasting adverse effects on an individual’s mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.
What Does Trauma Look Like?
Trauma comes in many forms, and its effects can look different for everyone. Physical violence, emotional abuse or neglect, witnessing a suicide attempt, witnessing someone getting injured or killed, and sexual harassment are only some of the ways which trauma may be inflicted.
Adverse childhood experiences such as incarceration of a parent, divorce, or mental illness in the family can also have traumatic effects on a child.
A person’s reaction to trauma can manifest in a myriad of ways and vary from person to person – whether it’s lethargy, body aches, sweating profusely, flashbacks, night terrors, lashing out, depressive or suicidal thoughts, avoidant behaviour, withdrawal from social settings, these are caused by an overstimulation of senses during the traumatic event.
Symptoms usually include one (or more) of the human body’s natural Fight, Flight or Freeze responses, and often cause survivors to feel a loss of control, with devastating long- term effects on the brain.