We have long been aware of the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on our long-term health and well-being. Because toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and how the body responds to stress, their occurrence in childhood has a direct correlation to increases in substance abuse, mental illnesses, and poor health outcomes.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published a new study that puts a staggering dollar figure on that impact. Researchers found that ACEs cost our nation $14.1 trillion annually because of related adult health conditions, including direct medical spending and lost productivity.

However, the study is limited, in that it doesn’t identify the disparities in the number of ACEs impacting children and families of color, and the exponentially higher costs for this segment of our population. In fact, a recent Child Trends report indicates that 61% of Black children in the U.S. have experienced at least one ACE, as compared with 40% of white children and 23% of Asian children.

Researchers have long identified ACEs based on the Felitti scale, which identifies 10 items under two categories:

What’s missing is the impact of generational and historical trauma, especially racism.

Impact of Generational Trauma and Systemic Racism

Racism has a direct and measurable impact on children’s health. More families of color live in poverty than white families, which can lead to food insecurity, lack of safe housing, and reduced access to health care and education. All of these increase chronic stress in children and can have long-term health consequences, with African Americans at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, influenza, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. This disproportionality also is evident in incarceration rates, child welfare system involvement, and educational outcomes for African American youth, and disparities are often linked to systemic biases.

Research backs this up. A study from Princeton University sociologist Devah Pager showed that young Black men with similar education and no criminal record were much less likely to be offered a job than similar white men. It went on to show that white men with criminal records had an equal or better chance of being hired than Black men with no record. We see the same biases in housing discrimination, child separation rates in child welfare, and more.

There has been some progress in expanding the ACEs scale to reflect the toxic stress that bias and racism impart on children. For example, the team at RYSE Youth Center in Oakland expanded the original ACEs pyramid from the CDC, adding layers of collective and multigenerational thinking, layers of historical, cultural, and social context, to highlight the deeper roots of trauma and explore why these traumatic experiences occur in the first place. The CDC has since adopted the more complete picture offered by this pyramid.

For those of us who work in health and human services, it is critical that we expand our understanding of trauma and adversity beyond the 10 ACEs questions, and work to integrate both trauma-informed and antiracist efforts across the systems we support.

Embracing a Trauma-Informed Approach

One example can be found in Zero to Three’s Safe Babies Court Team™ (SBCT) approach, which focuses on minimizing trauma and its impact on early development by improving how the courts, child welfare agencies, and related child-serving organizations come together to partner with families to support their young children. This approach recognizes that some families experience great stress while raising their children due to environmental conditions—community violence, systemic racism, trauma, or health issues—that make it difficult to provide safety and stability. The Safe Babies Court Team approach does not promote a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the challenges faced by families within the child welfare system or by the system itself. By addressing the needs of each family, through housing, work opportunities, job training, transportation, substance use counseling, and more, Safe Babies Courts are showing that their children are reaching permanency three times faster than infants and toddlers in the general foster care population. Almost two-thirds of babies and toddlers are reunified or find permanent homes with members of their families.

This approach calls for practitioners to ensure all equity efforts include knowledge and practices that embed brain science concepts, including understanding the areas of our nervous system that are activated when we discuss, experience, or perpetrate racism, and how that activation creates barriers for connection.

A core concept of the trauma-informed approach is, “healing happens in relationships.” The development of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships can help build greater resilience in individuals. In its July 2021 policy statement, the Academy of Pediatrics emphasized the need to shift from toxic stress to building relational health. As Dr. Andrew Garner with the American Academy of Pediatrics notes: “The concept of drawing on positive relationships as a shield against the toxic stress caused by adverse experiences has never been more relevant. Over the past few years, we’ve experienced a socially isolating pandemic and reckoned with centuries of structural racism. We must take steps to help kids form close, healthy, and nurturing bonds, whether it is within family, school, or community.”

Policymakers have a role to play as well, by promoting concrete, economic supports and family strengthening policies, such as expanded family medical leave, child tax credits, access to safe and affordable housing, access to early childhood education and mental health services, and more. Research from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago has demonstrated that connecting families to a well-resourced, community-driven prevention system can meaningfully address the root causes of adverse experiences, including racism, child abuse and neglect and trauma. 

Despite the terrible cost of ACEs, both in economic dollars and lifelong negative impacts, the latest research has demonstrated the potential for safe, stable, and nurturing relationships to act as a protective buffer against the harm of toxic stress on children. When we expand our view of ACEs to include the impact of generational racism, and lift up community efforts focused on building relationships and an understanding that our diversity as a nation is our strength, we have a better roadmap to addressing disparities and incorporating trauma-informed approaches that can help provide all children with a foundation for building resilience that leads to safer, healthier outcomes throughout their life.

According to OSHA’s 2019 statistics, “healthcare and social assistance workers in private industry experienced workplace-violence-related injuries at an estimated incidence rate of 10.4 per 10,000 full-time workers – for a total of 14,550 nonfatal injuries.” The rates are even higher for psychiatric, substance abuse, and residential mental health care facilities. Despite these staggering statistics, OSHA does not have a specific standard on workplace violence for employers. Currently, the General Duty Clause found in Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH ACT of 1970 is enforced in situations involving workplace violence. Most citations issued by OSHA’s compliance officers due to workplace violence typically involve the health care industry.

This has led OSHA to focus on the early development stages of a new workplace violence standard. In March 2023, OSHA called together a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel. They received representation from organizations in industry sectors such as hospitals, residential behavioral health facilities, residential care facilities, home health care, emergency medical services, social assistance, correctional health settings, ambulatory mental health care, ambulatory substance abuse treatment centers, and freestanding emergency centers. OSHA identified potential topics in the draft standard to be considered by the panel, including:

While the exact rollout date of the new standard is unknown at this time, employers can proactively begin evaluating their organization’s current prevention program. The following measures can be implemented or reviewed for effectiveness:

Written Procedures: Organizations should begin by developing a policy on workplace violence containing zero tolerance. The policy can be a standalone policy, part of the organization’s safety manual, or it can become part of the employee handbook. The policy should begin by expressing management’s commitment, as well as stressing the importance of employee participation. Other items to be included in the written policy include hazard identification, hazard prevention and control, training, and recordkeeping.

Hazard Assessment: Consider all possible hazards that may lead to an instance of workplace violence, including recent terminations that may have been particularly difficult. Conduct a walkthrough inspection of your facility and grounds to determine the security of all entry points. Are doors left propped open during breaks? Are windows latched and locked? What areas need further securement?

Physical Controls: These are referred to as ‘engineering’ or physical controls used to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards:

Administrative Controls:

For more information and helpful resources, OSHA provides guidance on workplace violence prevention programs, or please reach out to Lisa Bellis, senior vice president of risk management & loss control at Brown & Brown, at 610-348-7986.

Social Current’s Strategic Industry Partners, like Brown & Brown, offer specialized products or services that benefit our network. To learn more about partnering with Social Current, contact us.

It is Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to share the impact of brain science on our everyday lives, and an opportunity to explore how brain science concepts impact our trauma-informed and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)-focused work. We know we cannot be trauma-informed without being antiracist. But our efforts at this intersection remain siloed. Within human services organizations, this work is often defined and carried out by separate trauma-informed and antiracist committees and can be hampered by limited understanding of how to integrate the two at the individual and organizational levels.

At the intersection of EDI and brain science we wrestle with trauma-informed concepts, such as power differentials, psychological safety, difficult conversations, implicit bias, vulnerability, and healing. With a stronger understanding of brain science, we strengthen our capacities for mindfulness and cultural humility, develop our own racial identity, boost our self-regulation skills and compassion for self and others, and advance a healing journey that includes our whole body.

Translating Knowledge into Action

One opportunity for deep impact is rooting all EDI work in a foundation of basic brain science concepts. The brain impacts our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors during every second of our day. Our brains are designed to keep us safe, constantly monitoring our surroundings and putting up “fight or flight” barriers when we experience things that are new or different. Yet, we are also social beings, craving connection and belonging. The brain’s primary function of keeping us safe can sometimes conflict with our human need to connect. This conflict impacts our EDI efforts, our ability to bridge differences, and our efforts to heal from trauma, especially the trauma of white supremacy. With a deeper understanding of basic brain science concepts, we become more aware of opportunities and strategies to quiet our brain’s safety function so we can connect, integrate our trauma-informed and equity initiatives, and advance our personal and organizational EDI efforts.

Resmaa Menakem, therapist, trauma specialist, and author of My Grandmother’s Hands and The Quaking of America, teaches that healing from centuries of racial trauma for all bodies requires an embodied approach, one that recognizes the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. Today, white supremacy is our operating system—it’s the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat. It’s embedded in our institutions and social contracts. Most of all, though, white supremacy lives in our bodies, which is why Menakem uses the term, “white-body supremacy.”

Menakem teaches that white body supremacy, “and all the claims, accusations, excuses, and dodges that surround it — are a trauma response … and we need to heal from it by starting with our bodies.” Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism notes, “White Supremacy is not rational, and we don’t heal it with our intellect alone.”

So, what does this mean for our EDI and trauma-informed efforts? Here are two strategies that incorporate these concepts and get us thinking about making changes in our daily practices.

Regulate, Regulate, Regulate
Regulation is the basic strategy for calming the defensive and reactive parts of our brain so that we can access the more receptive, open, learning parts. Focused breathing, taking a short walk, listening to music, using a standing desk are all ways to keep our mind clear and focused. There are dozens of regulation strategies to use in the work setting, both for large groups and individuals.

Dr. Bruce Perry’s sequence of engagement – regulate, relate, reason – is a simple practice for effective communication that starts with regulation. The steps work in this order:

  1. Regulate: First, ensure we are calm and centered before we start talking. You and your colleagues can use regulation strategies that work for you.
  2. Relate: Next, connect human to human. Ask a colleague, “What are you looking forward to?” “What are you worried about?” “What are you thinking about today?”
  3. Reason: Finally, move to the content of the conversation – to do lists, a pending project, or complex equity dynamics in a work relationship.

When we do this at every meeting, supervision session, and human interaction, especially the hard ones we avoid, we have greater success in our communications. We move closer to achieving the EDI and trauma-informed outcomes we strive for—candid conversations, individual and organizational accountability, and inclusive environments.

Somatic and Embodied Practices

Somatic means related to the body. Embodied signifies feeling at home and safe in our body, an increased ability to be in our body in the present moment and to feel all its sensations. Somatic embodied practices build our awareness of our brain’s safety functions and help us to quiet those strong impulses, which strengthens our ability to connect and belong.

It turns out that somatic, embodied practices are critically important in our EDI work. Resmaa Menakem’s Somatic Abolitionism teaches us that, “Race has its unique charge, texture, weight, and speed. The ability to hold and work with these energies isn’t inborn. It needs to be acquired through effort and practice.” Somatic abolitionism is living, embodied antiracist practice and cultural building—a way of being in the world.
Menakem suggests healing from white body supremacy starts with the practice of five anchors:

  1. Settle the body
  2. Notice the sensations without reacting
  3. Accept the discomfort and sit with it
  4. Remain present and experience the uncertainty
  5. Safely discharge any energy that remains

Menakem teaches that we can strengthen our muscles for practicing these five anchors through repetition of cultural somatic practices including grounding, orientation, movement, touch and pause.

Using somatic and embodied practices are not an overnight fix. Healing from white supremacy, for all bodies, is a lifelong journey. But understanding that healing starts by focusing on our bodies puts us on a new path to exploring our EDI work and integrating it with our trauma-informed efforts.

The needs of human services staff and complexities of our work require us to embrace new ways of being at work. Embedding brain science concepts into our daily interactions could have many benefits. The good news is there are countless ways, as individuals and organizations, to prioritize brain-friendly and healing practices. When we do this, we will help settle our bodies and brains, bridge differences, increase connection, improve equity and accountability, and truly integrate our trauma-informed and equity-focused efforts to reach the outcomes we are so hungry to achieve. The biggest challenge may be taking the first step to get started.

Next Steps in Applying Brain Science to Your EDI Efforts

To learn more about the brain and how it advances our equity efforts, join our upcoming learning series – Hardwired for Fear and Connection: The Intersection of Brain Science and Equity – which starts March 19. In this three-part series we will focus on the intersection of brain science and EDI and its application for our daily work. We will build shared understanding of foundational brain friendly and EDI concepts and consider how our daily EDI efforts are interrupted by our key brain functions often outside of our consciousness. Additionally, we will share concrete strategies for increasing self-awareness, quieting our lower brains, having difficult conversations, understanding power differentials, and increasing felt safety in our work setting, and advancing somatic-embodied approaches.

Other ways that Social Current can help with our EDI and trauma-informed journeys:

A recent study from Deloitte Research Center revealed workforce well-being has continued to decline since last year, leaving more employees feeling exhausted (52%), stressed (49%), and overwhelmed (43%). In fact, a significant percentage of employees say their job has negatively impacted their physical (33%), mental (40%), and social (21%) well-being.

“Executives have an opportunity to rewrite this story—for their employees, for their managers, and also for themselves. Work shouldn’t be the reason people feel exhausted, stressed, and isolated from friends and family,” notes this article about the study. “Employees should feel that they’re able to take time off and disconnect, and managers should feel capable of providing the support their team members need.”

Despite these alarming trends, the study also identifies solutions for supporting a healthy, thriving workforce:

“Human sustainability” is defined by the study as the “creation of value for current and future workers and, more broadly, human beings and society.” According to Deloitte, 82% of employees report they would be more likely to take a job that is advancing human sustainability.

Though working in human services can be particularly challenging, organizations can tap into people’s desire to be connected to a greater societal purpose by keeping them connected with and engaged in their mission and impact.

How Social Current’s Work Aligns with Findings

Social Current’s workforce resilience approach is based on four core learning concepts that are deeply rooted in equity and brain science for long-term organizational impact. This approach works to enhance and embed human sustainability at the individual, organizational, and collective levels by:

Advancing Brain Science and Regulation

Deloitte’s study revealed a lack of capacity for workers, managers, and executives to accomplish their workloads while remaining accountable for their personal and organizational well-being. Social Current’s approach to workforce resilience uses brain science to offer tangible tools for increasing regulation, allowing for increased connection, accountability, and trust.

Building Psychological Safety

The practice of psychological safety is built into the workforce culture over time and requires leaders to respond to staff challenges by modeling authenticity, accountability, and compassion, creating space for sharing and listening. Deloitte’s study, however, revealed that although most managers (73%) believe they should be modeling healthy behavior, they do not feel empowered to do so (42%). Social Current’s experts provide guidance to empower organizational leaders to embrace and embody these concepts.

Prioritizing Positive Workplace Culture

This year, 60% of employees and 75% of executives were considering quitting their current jobs in search of better well-being outcomes. Resilience at work is highly dependent on a positive culture that reflects the organization’s stated values and beliefs. Social Current’s approach makes culture a priority to prevent and mitigate workforce concerns such as secondary traumatic stress and burnout.

Increasing Connection

Nearly a third of employees reported feeling like their manager did not care about their well-being in Deloitte’s study, and only 35% of managers reported being open about their well-being with their employees. We are hardwired for connection, and an organization is more likely to thrive when employees feel connected. Social Current’s approach models practices, such as frequent check-ins, peer mentors, normalizing discussions around mental health and EDI, and finding shared purpose to build meaningful connection.

If you are ready to take accountability for your organization’s workforce well-being, contact us to learn more about next steps, or register for our upcoming four-part “Building a Resilient Workforce” webinar series.

Social Current is dedicated to the growth and overall success of the social sector, and as workforce challenges continue to hinder human service organizations, we remain committed to offering solutions that will support staff and build resilience.  

In our upcoming learning series, “Building a Resilient Workforce,” Social Current experts will delve into core strategies and tactics for supporting staff, such as increasing accountability, managing conflict, nurturing relationships, embracing equity, and achieving excellence.  

Participants are sure to gain knowledge and tools to set them, and their organizations, up for success. From utilizing brain science in the workplace to fostering psychological safety to creating culture and community, this learning series will provide concrete action steps to support staff who are emotionally and physically exhausted.  

Join us for this four-part webinar series to ensure staff remain connected to the mission and vision of your organization. Register by Aug. 14 to receive the early bird rates, a savings of $15 on an individual webinar or $35 on the entire series. View full event details and register online:

Envision a workforce that feels stable, secure, and capable of thriving in the face of daily challenges. Learn more about our upcoming series and workforce resilience consulting services.

Today’s workforce expects fulfillment and sustainable culture change.

The workforce crisis continues. Workforce trends clearly demonstrate that staff expects leaders to move beyond pre-pandemic, top-down, employee recognition and self-care initiatives. To truly partner with them to improve engagement, retention, equity, and communication, the workforce of today expects leaders to focus on fulfillment and sustainable culture change, and to teach new skills to take on today’s challenges. i

As leaders, we are persuaded to practice empathy, compassion, connection, inclusivity, psychological safety, mindfulness, and gratitude. But guidance on how to do these things is lacking. The pressing questions are: Where do we focus our learning first? What is the foundational framework to guide our actions?

The answer to the first question is simple – our brain. And the intervention is straightforward – create brain friendly work environments. Sound intimidating? It truly is not. The basics about brain functioning are easy to learn. Applying this knowledge in everyday interactions is trickier and requires focus, practice, and intention. But it is doable. The hardest task may be embracing the need to create brain friendly work environments.

Our sector has made strides in understanding the urgency to build healthy brains in new babies and young children. Early childhood resilience strategies such as “serve and return” and efforts to strengthen executive functioning skills are now commonly built into trainings and practice. However, the human services field has been slow to translate emerging brain friendly interventions into learnings and practices with adults, especially our workforce.

Bringing this knowledge into our work cultures is critical to creating well-being and resilience, especially in our complex and stressful work settings. Our brain mediates our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and as Dr. Bruce Perry notes “…a brain aware perspective helps me when I’m trying to understand people.” ii With this knowledge, we can prevent and mitigate the impact of toxic stress on our brains and bodies. And we can lay the foundation for being well at work.

Start Building Brain-Friendly Practices

If we want to strengthen brain friendly practices at work, where do we start? Here are three basic strategies to begin your work.

Understand Basic Brain Architecture

The brain is built from the bottom up, and different parts of the brain mediate different functions. As you go from the lower part of the brain, or brainstem, to the highest part of the brain, the frontal cortex, you go from the simplest to the more complex functions. Core regulatory networks, which originate in the lower part of the brain, are the backbone of the stress response system. Our brain gets input from all these networks to tell us if we are safe or threatened. If there is no insignificant need that is unmet, we can access our frontal cortex. However, when we are threatened or perceive we are threatened, this impacts how we think, feel, and behave. The more threatened we are, the more we shut down the thinking part of our brain.

So why care about this at work? We know that first responders, child protection workers, street outreach workers, and others who work in physically unsafe situations need to understand this basic physiology. But most of us are physically safe at work, so why does it matter to us? Well, threats that impact how we think, feel, and behave fall along a wide continuum of needs – from the threat of physical harm to the threat of feeling undervalued, unheard, and disconnected. When our core stress response networks warn us that we are in the out group, our voice is unheard, our work is undervalued, or we are in conflict with someone, we may easily default to our lower brain. Our frontal cortex shuts down, and we struggle to problem solve, innovate, create, advocate, hold others accountable, and take risks. We remain vigilant, push back, check out, and feel physically and emotionally exhausted. Our already complex work becomes harder, and the risk of burn out increases.

The good news is there are countless ways, as individuals and organizations, to create brain friendly cultures in which we can stay in our thinking brain, mitigate toxic stress, increase connection, improve equity and accountability, and reach the outcomes we are so hungry to achieve.

Regulate, Relate, Reason

Regulation is the basic strategy for calming our lower brain and staying in our thinking brain. Focused breathing, taking a short walk, listening to music, and using a standing desk are all ways to keep our mind clear and focused. There are dozens of regulation strategies to use in the work setting, both for large groups and individuals.

Dr. Bruce Perry’s sequence of engagement – regulate, relate, reason – is a simple practice for effective communication that starts with regulation.i The steps work in this order:

  1. Regulate: First, ensure we are calm and centered before we start talking. You and your colleagues can use regulations strategies that work for you.
  2. Relate: Next, connect human to human. Ask a colleague: What are you looking forward to? What are you worried about? What are you thinking about today?
  3. Reason: Finally, move to the content of the conversation: to-do lists, a pending project, or complex equity dynamics in a work relationship.

When we do this at every meeting, supervision session, and human interaction, especially the hard ones we avoid, we have greater success in our communications. We move closer to achieving the workforce outcomes we strive for – increased trust, stronger relationships, candid conversations, and more accountability.

Understand Executive Functioning

Our brains are exposed to about eleven million pieces of information at any given time and can only process about 0.00001% of that incoming data. This knowledge about the brain is critical to understanding equity, diversity, and inclusion concepts, such as implicit bias and power differentials.i It is also central to understanding executive functioning skills, which help our brains manage an overload of information to prioritize tasks, filter distractions, and control impulses. The Harvard Center on the Developing Childii notes that these skills are like an air traffic control system which ensures planes navigate safely in flight and at an airport. Learning these skills in childhood is critical to healthy brain development. As adults, we need environments that support optimal executive functioning so we can plan, meet goals, practice self-control, follow multiple-step directions even when interrupted, and stay focused despite distractions.

Ideas to Start Elevating Executive Functioning Skills at Work

Write Short, Succinct Emails

Long, unfocused emails are hard to understand, especially when we are under stress, in our lower brain, and our air traffic control is too busy. If staff are not reading emails, it could be because the messages are not brain friendly. Write short emails that are absent of unnecessary words and focused on the most important content and requests.

Discourage Multitasking

Our brains micro-switch, not multi-task. When we try to do more than one content-related task simultaneously, we fail. We cannot answer an email and hear the content of an online training at the same time. When we do one thing at a time, we are more effective, efficient, and productive. Modeling this concept at work and mitigating the workload our staff carry are key strategies for building a brain friendly environment.

Ready to take the next steps in creating a brain friendly work environment?

There is much more to learn about the brain and how it makes us think, feel, and behave. The first step, and possibly the hardest one, is understanding that brain friendly awareness is a critical cornerstone for working with adults and is at the core of building a healthy workforce. The concepts and strategies are teachable, applicable, and worth the investment of time and resources. When we embrace building brain friendly environments, we lay the foundation for workforce culture change that our staff needs to thrive and be well during these challenging times.

Social Current can help with that journey:


i O.C. Tanner Institute (2023). Global Culture Report.

ii Bruce Perry & Oprah Winfrey. (2021). What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing. Flatiron Books.

iii ibid.

iv Short Wave, NPR (2020). Understanding Unconscious Bias.

v Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University (n.d.). What is Executive Function? And How Does It Relate to Child Development?

 

Strategic organizations are transformative organizations. They look beyond current experience to anticipate future trends and opportunities. They ask, “Why?” and evaluate answers within a future-oriented context. They expect to change.

Trendspotting and trend analysis can be powerful for strategic planning by creating credible illustrations of what the future might look like. Based on that, community-based organizations and their cross-sector partners can align community priorities and resources to help all people reach their full potential.

Incorporating a diversity of trends topics is particularly useful for creating a strategy where the end product is a long-term plan to be implemented over multiple years. Such plans aren’t just about identifying broad goals to be realized, but also key strategies for how the organization will meet those goals. 

Designing Useful Trend Inquiry

Core to trendspotting is research, and two types of research—primary and secondary—are best for identifying data that can inform activities like strategic planning, risk assessment, and opportunity mapping.

Primary research is firsthand research using methods like interviews with consumers and program participants, employees, community leaders and advocates, academic subject matter experts, regulators, policymakers, funders, and other stakeholders.

Secondary research uses available data and information found in reports and databases from diverse industries, which can be used as sources for trend determination. Examples can include demographics and other census tract information, local asset mapping, state and federal data (e.g., Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System [AFCARS]), and more.

The essential process of trend investigation is about asking the right questions about the right things. These can roughly be divided into three areas, with examples of questions below:

Getting the Most Out of Scenario Planning

Since no one can tell the future with 100% certainty all the time, developing robust scenarios can help bridge present circumstances with future requirements. The range and value of organizational opportunities based on trend analysis depend on scenarios that should include most of these criteria:

By evaluating relevant trends compiled through primary and secondary research and using the analysis to explore governance and operational scenarios, the ability to optimize programs and services and create achievable pathways to child and family well-being is strengthened.

Harnessing Trends

The Social Current Knowledge and Insights Center, available through our Impact Partnerships, helps professionals in human/social services to learn, improve, and innovate by providing timely, useful, and relevant information and resources. This is done by:

Professional librarians in the Knowledge and Insights Center routinely gather trends data on a variety of organizational topics, such as workforce resilience and service innovation, as well as meta trends that encompass demographics, systemic and environmental factors, technology, and more.

Hot Topics from 2022

Below are some of the key topics that have been monitored in 2022, with an insight summary, brief source examples, and related resources and offerings from Social Current:

Integration of Workforce Resilience as a Key Organizational Sustainability Strategy

Resilience is a buzzword and seen as necessary for workplaces. But can organizations improve employee resilience? Some think yes, others think no. “A resilience-oriented workforce spans many disciplines and training programs will need to reflect that. It requires a collaborative organizational model that promotes information sharing structures.”

Sources:

See Also:

Providers Increasingly Incorporating Social Determinants of Health in Service Delivery  

Social determinants of health (SDOH) and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) profoundly impact lives of individuals. Both SDOH and ACEs are risk factors for childhood mental health disorders, health, and social outcomes. These factors include housing instability, food insecurity, poverty, community violence, and discrimination. There are ways to help address these risk factors, and this includes things like quality education, safe neighborhoods, and positive parent-child relationships.

Sources:  

See Also:

Biggest Public Health Threats to Teens Are Mental Health Disorders

Teenage pregnancy, smoking, binge drinking, drunken driving and smoking are no longer the biggest public health threats to teens. It is now rising rates of mental health disorders. With up to one in five children having a mental, emotional, development, or behavioral disorder, and rising rates of mental health visits in emergency rooms and depression symptoms rising during the pandemic, it is critical to pay attention to the mental health crisis in young people today.

Sources:  

See Also:

Post-Pandemic Mental Health Crises Driving Change to Suicide Prevention Strategies   

With rising rates of depression and anxiety compared to prior to the pandemic, the new U.S. suicide hotline 988 comes at a critical time. Suicide is a leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 years old, and 90% of those who died by suicide had a “diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.”

Sources:  

See Also:

Successful Mental Health Interventions Are More Dependent on Cultural Responsiveness     

Cultural competencies and cultural responsiveness for mental health providers is now seen as critical, even “a matter of life and death.”

Source:  

See Also:

Integrated Community and Systems Response Counteract School-to-Prison Pipeline  

The school-to-prison pipeline is a “disturbing national trend wherein youth are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal legal systems. Many of these youth are Black or Brown, have disabilities, or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional supports and resources. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.” 

Source:  

See Also:

Other top trends recently updated by the Knowledge and Insights Center:

How to Access Our Specialized Researchers & Tools

As you plan for 2023 and beyond, make sure you’re utilizing all the tools in your toolbox. Join our Dec. 7 webinar for an in-depth overview of the Knowledge and Insights Center. For more information on the resources portal, including the Ask-a-Librarian reference request service, visit the Social Current Hub or contact the Knowledge and Insights Center.

About the Knowledge and Insights Center

The Knowledge and Insights Center offers a robust resources portal through the Social Current Hub, which includes a digital library with over 22,000 records; aggregated research and business databases; diverse topic collections and library guides; original content summarizing complex information; and coaching that helps users maximize these resources. Our team includes professional librarians with wide-ranging skillsets and extensive experience in collection development specific to the nonprofit social services sector.

The new lifeline may already be helping save lives

On July 16, the U.S. transitioned to 988, an easy-to-remember number that routes callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, now known as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or 988 Lifeline. Similar to the 911 emergency system that connects callers with nearby first-responders, the 988 Lifeline is a 24/7 national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Individuals can call or text the hotline, which has increased access to trained support. Previously, callers dialed a 10-digit toll-free number, not as easily remembered and potentially without connection to local support or as many trained counselors.

Mental health and health care providers are particularly glad for the rollout since they will be able to respond to many crises before there is escalation or delays in referrals from 911 responders who may not be trained in mental health crisis intervention. On average, police spend 20% of their time responding to and transporting people who are having mental health crises and it is anticipated that 988 can help reduce violent interactions with the police, including fatal shootings of people in crisis. It is hoped that 988 will also be part of the solution to end the constant cycle of ER visits, arrests, imprisonment, and homelessness among mentally ill people.

The $432 million initial funding for the long-sought system transition came from the Biden-Harris Administration and the U.S. Congress and with collaboration of other federal, state/territory, and local governments across the country. An additional $150 million has been allocated for the 988 Lifeline under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act signed this summer.

Promising Data Indicate Impact

Suicide is one of the country’s leading causes of death; nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in 2020, or one death every 11 minutes. An estimated 12.2 million Americans had seriously thought about suicide in 2020; 3.2 million Americans planned a suicide attempt and 1.2 million Americans attempted suicide.

But there are positive indications of 988’s goal to catalyze connection into action. At the end of August, the first full month of operation, the 988 Lifeline is potentially already saving lives. New data released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show a 45% increase in overall call volume with 988 and a substantial improvement in answer rates and wait times, compared to August 2021 with the previous lifeline system.

This new system expedites the connection between those struggling with mental health crises and properly trained counselors who will ideally be located close to the caller, meaning communities can better leverage localized resources. In instances where the local center is too busy to pick up, callers will be transferred to a different center, so they will still be able to receive prompt support.

The Road to Transformation

Transformation of this scale is never easy. It will take time and more resources for the 988 Lifeline system to reach its full potential. A recent survey of 180 public health officials in the U.S. by the Rand Corporation found that 51% of respondents said they were not involved in developing a strategic plan for 988. And only 16% said they had created a budget to support 988 operations.

As community-based organizations and health care and mental health systems know all too well with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, improving prevention and response crisis care in the U.S. is especially needed after rising rates of depression and anxiety, particularly among youth and young adults. Because of increased demand, there is a need for stronger support through digital tools, as in-person care is not always readily possible in infection hot spots and there may be a waiting period for in-person counseling.

The Lifeline system is only one part of an effective community response: Other cross-system initiatives like mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization programs, and expanded access to behavioral health services—especially for communities of color, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized groups—are just a few of the other community-designed elements that will reduce suicide rates. Building out the broader crisis care continuum is also dependent on the commitment of future elected officials and other cross-sector leaders to ensure the safety and well-being of all U.S. residents, ensuring that there is someone to call, someone to respond to, and somewhere for every American in crisis to go.

Suicide Prevention Month and 988 Resources

Related Learning and Resources from Social Current


If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. During this major system transition, the previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis; the Veterans Crisis Line previous phone number (1-800-273-8255), text (838255), and chat (VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat) likewise remain active.

In a statement from Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of Social Current, she commented on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade:

“While many reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade after nearly 50 years of precedent have illuminated our nation’s political divide, our concerns focus squarely on the impact this decision will have on equitable access to health care, which fosters the health and well-being of all people in our nation.

Prior to the trigger laws going into effect across numerous states, the U.S. already had the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries. Researchers point to our nation’s relatively low numbers of maternity care providers and comprehensive health care, including postpartum supports, as the cause.

Then consider the multiplying effect on communities of color. A study just this week from Duke University suggests a total ban on abortions could increase maternal deaths among Black women by 33%.

Some 26 states are expected to pass some form of abortion restriction, many not even offering exemptions for the life of the mother, rape, or incest. These statewide bans will disproportionately affect the health and well-being of women of color who already face disparities in health care access and outcomes.

These states also lack significant resources to support pregnant people, including access to affordable health care services, childcare services, behavioral health care, and paid family leave.

Studies also show a link between lack of access to abortion and poverty. The Turnaway Study followed women for a decade and found that those denied an abortion were four times as likely to be living in poverty years later, and that trend continued to impact their children. For people living in poverty, this ruling represents a glass ceiling of economic disparities they may never overcome.

We can see the looming future of generations of people being forced to carry pregnancies resulting from rape or incest to term and the impact of that on their emotional well-being. We see generation upon generation of adolescents and young people facing mandated births without adequate resources to lift themselves out of poverty. We see a future of greater divides across America—not political divides but a division of haves and have nots, as only families of means will have the ability to travel across states or to other countries to access safe abortions and reproductive health care services. And we see a potential future of more erosion of rights, as other rulings linked to Roe v. Wade that protect access to contraception and same-sex marriage are challenged and possibly eroded.

We work at the nexus of community and government to support policies that advance equity, improve health and well-being, and increase economic opportunity and mobility so all people can thrive. This Supreme Court ruling strips away the fundamental rights that provide equitable access to health and economic opportunity. It is a setback for our whole society and we pledge to work across our sector and across our nation to ameliorate its impacts and support the right of all people to have self-determination in the most critical and life-changing decisions that impact their health, their families and their lives.”

The views expressed by Social Current are grounded in and aligned with our mission, vision, values, and policy agenda principles and do not necessarily reflect those of our entire network. 

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