Six cities were invited to SAMHSA for a listening session to present their innovative approaches to addressing trauma. This blog is part of a series that highlights community approaches in selected implementation domains and how each city is working to create safer and healthier places to live, learn, work and play.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) recognizes that trauma and toxic stress are critical public health concerns, with detrimental effects on individuals, agencies and across generations. But with 9,000 employees serving a diverse city with almost a million residents, making sustainable change is a daunting task. In their Trauma-Informed Systems (TIS) initiative, SFDPH has used multiple strategies to bring their entire organization – and their community partners – into alignment with principles of a trauma-informed public health approach.
In order to promote a shared culture and common language, SFDPH developed core principles and competencies for a trauma-informed approach and a foundational training curriculum. They made training mandatory for all employees, developed a trauma champions learning community, trained trainers, and host twice-monthly master’s training sessions. They increased the likelihood that training will lead to change by using a “commitment to change” process, where participants commit to a specific action based on what they’ve learned – and then following up to see if it actually happened. SFDPH took another step towards alignment by re-examining and re-tooling related organizational processes, including the Black and African American Health Initiative, ongoing cultural humility training, ongoing staff development efforts, and a workforce satisfaction survey.
And they created alignment with community partners by using the same principles in training for city departments and agencies throughout the San Francisco area, including schools, juvenile justice, human services, early child development services, family violence prevention programs, and others.
For more information about SAMHSA’s community trauma initiative, visit the SAMHSA’s Efforts to Address Trauma and Violence webpage.