Don’t overlook the ongoing trauma involved with DV
"We not only need to work on preventing domestic violence but also on working effectively with people who have suffered such trauma, recognising the impact on their mental health."
That's according to CQUniversity 'lived experience' mental health academics Dr Louise Byrne and Trudy Atkinson.
Both are able to draw on their own personal experience of mental health challenges to add veracity and authenticity to their research and teaching.
Dr Byrne said that to truly contribute to decreasing both mental health challenges and the incidence of domestic violence, work done in the mental health sector "must recognise and work towards healing the wounds of the past instead of focusing so heavily on the symptoms of today".
"With a significant percent of mental health issues being trauma-informed yet treated as a biological medical illness, we contribute to loss of hope, empowerment and potential for recovery," she said.
Ms Atkinson said that, by working with individuals and their experiences, rather than pathologising pain, "we can help rebuild hope and relationships - it is disconnection from hope, relationships and, all too often, unfortunately, life itself (ie. suicide), that is at the heart of the matter".
"My number one tip for working with people from a trauma-informed perspective is to simply ask 'what's happened?' and not 'what's wrong?."
That's because 'What's wrong?' reinforces shame-based messages; that there is something wrong' with the person.
"In fact, mental health challenges arising from such traumas as domestic violence often occur as a sane response to insane circumstances."
To feed the huge demand for mental health professionals, CQUniversity is now offering a Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing via distance education, with details via https://www.cqu.edu.au/courses-and-programs .