From the perspective of survivors, we go through many phases during our healing process, and most of the time "healing" is not a word we would use to describe what we are going through. We may not even identify as "survivors," and the word "trauma" is not something that many of us like to use to describe even the most painful of experiences. Nonetheless, experiencing pain caused by others can feel so isolating, and connecting with others for support is not a given for many of us. We may have moments of wanting to connect, and then those feelings slip away and once again we feel alone.
Emotions such as isolation, shame, fear of judgement or rejection, depression, anxiety, and such can contribute to the disconnect. These super common feelings and thoughts are considered our mental health. Everyone has "mental health," but not everyone feels comfortable discussing it. Finding the right service provider to help us manage our mental health, and make us feel comfortable and understood is super important. However, it is not an easy process, and we need supporters (professionals, family, and friends) to be patient with us.
From the professional support perspective, there is an infinite number of ways that survivors can fall through the cracks of the network that we are all tirelessly working to create, maintain, and grow. Very often the survivors’ mental health can be a factor in whether they reach out to us and accept the kind of services that we offer. Often we find that our two worlds become an "us" versus "them" situation, but all we really want to do is give survivors what they need in order to move forward.
Professional supporters have to work very hard to inspire consistent engagement in services, and avoid inadvertently retraumatizing or discouraging those who come to us for help. We realize that even a lack of a “yes, we can help,” can feel to a survivor like a “sorry, we can’t do anything for you.” The window of opportunity to connect with a survivor can shut in an instant, and that can be heartbreaking. Too often we care so much about being there for others, that we forget our own needs and end up getting burned out or experiencing vicarious trauma.
From a mental health perspective, without support the mental health impact of trauma on individuals and their families can be devastating, and can escalate into polyvictimization (multiple traumas, often of different types) or more complex mental health issues, if left untreated. There is a significant demand by members of the community and by survivors for increased information about mental health issues. However, there is also a demand from a variety of organizations (universities and schools, private companies, nonprofits, grassroots groups, etc.) that also wish to better support survivors dealing with mental health issues.
Aha! Moment aims to address the gaps in the network of support for survivors caused by mental health issues. Whether you are a survivor or a professional, we are here for you.