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Trauma-informed care and mental health in NSW

About three in four Australians have experienced a potentially traumatic event in their lifetime.

Many people who access mental health services have a lived experienced of trauma and are more likely to have a history of complex trauma.

Mental health services and treatment can sometimes unintentionally cause harm by:

  • traumatising through the use of coercive practices, such as seclusion, physical and chemical restraint, and involuntary admissions
  • re-traumatising when a past traumatic event is evoked or recounted.

Trauma-informed care is an approach to service delivery based on an understanding of the ways trauma affects people’s lives, their service needs and service usage. It incorporates principles of safety, choice, collaboration, trust and empowerment.

Adopting a trauma-informed care approach has the potential to:

  • reduce the use of seclusion and restraint
  • enhance therapeutic relationships and their basis in trust, collaboration, respect and hope, and
  • improve outcomes and value.

This report summarises research evidence on the impact of trauma-informed approaches on processes and outcomes of care; and considers the extent to which mental health services in NSW are trauma-informed, using empirical evidence drawn from survey data and experiential evidence from consumers and clinicians.

Read more about the Trauma-Informed Care and Practice project at ACI.