Traumatic events can happen to several individuals at any time or in any place. There is no discrimination when it comes to traumatic events and who is affected. There are populations that are often overlooked but are still affected by traumatic events, these marginalized populations will be discussed briefly in this blog. At the end of this blog look for resources that will be able to assist the populations that may not have adequate help otherwise.
African American Gang members
Many African American’s (AA’s) are considered part of the marginalized population yet there is another distinction that is further exacerbated considering this population and that is the involvement with gangs. AA’s that are involved with gangs typically do not have adequate health care coverage and reluctantly seek out medical assistance. Individuals in this population tend to grow up in environments that do not promote physical well being granted by medical professionals. They often go long periods of time without getting a physical examination due to environmental conditions and lack of medical facilities in the areas they reside.
This population often experience traumatic incidents that lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Seeing dead bodies, witnessing, or participating in violent behaviors like drive-by shootings, robberies, murders, excessive fighting, and other high-risk behaviors that cause mental health issues. Females that are part of gangs experience unwanted sexual assaults (Nydegger, et al, 2017) and violent beatings to be a part of the gang (initiation). When the population experiences these events, PTSD will be evident in their lives, but will often go undiagnosed.
Substance use is another affect that trauma will bring with it to the individual that is struggling through their thoughts. It is common for people to do things to forget the trauma that they suffer from by using substances. Alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs provide temporary relief of symptoms but do not provide long term solutions. Many times, individual suffers do not have access to mental health professionals, so they revert to self-medicating to make it through their days.
Depression is a disorder that can be present when an individual experiences traumatic events. When thinking about gang members and the situations that they are accustomed to seeing, there may not be room for them to express themselves. With this type of emotional isolation, symptoms of depression can set in causing the individual to feel extreme sadness when no one is around. These struggles call for more education in low income, gang infested areas so that people can get access to help and not suffer alone.
Military Veterans of the LGBTQ community
The United States (US) military is an elite force of men, women and those who identify by other genders. With identity being so diverse, all the branches of the armed forces are doing their best to accommodate the changes in societal norms to break the stigma of identity. Even though strides are being made to change the military culture, discrimination and other trauma causing behaviors still exist. Those that identify as something other than male, or female are finding themselves becoming targets of these negative behaviors causing trauma induced mental health and physical challenges.
Health disparities is a common response to traumatic events that impact the veteran’s life long after completion of their service to our country. For instance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a health impact affecting 33% of Gulf war veteran’s (Tuteja, et al, 2019). Members of the LGBTQ community within the armed forces are not disqualified from experiencing this condition. There are other conditions that affect our military members that cause them to develop health concerns that require attention.
Social isolation is a condition many veterans face as they separate from the comradery of the service connection (Guthrie-Gower & Wilson-Menzfeld, 2022). Members of the LGBTQ community that were part of the armed forces experienced this isolation while serving on active duty as the had to hide their identity to protect themselves early on. Even though the armed forces have lifted the rules that did not allow members of this community to join, they still must be on guard as they can be targeted and traumatized.
PTSD is another concern impacting LGBTQ military members. It is often under reported but there may be loads of discriminatory practices by service members. Members can feel afraid to report these incidences which could cause traumatic stresses to the LGBTQ service member (Mark, et al, 2019). Members of the LGBTQ community experience sexual assault, discrimination, bullying, and harassment which leads to poorer mental health when compared to heterosexual members of the armed forces.
Children with special needs/ disabilities and their families
When things happen in society, the public may not understand that impact these events have on special needs families. Covid-19 has created a major impact on the lives of all of us, but an overlooked population are the children with special needs and their families. These marginalized families are struggling with resources and help dealing with life well after the initial surge of the pandemic. Deciphering what type of help and how much help is needed can be a chore when there are so many challenges in this populations.
Loss is a phenomenon that many experienced during the onset of the pandemic, yet special needs families were hit hard as many of them lost resources that aided them. Resources like, in home care and socialization activities for children that required one-on-one attention were put on hold with no replacements available. Special needs families lost the ability to connect with other families in-person due to the lockdown that was imposed in many states. Losing sporting activities, times for playing with other families, and educational opportunities have had grave impacts on these families.
Special needs families also experienced worry as the resources were removed for many of them, this caused the loss of employment for caregivers that had to take care of their children. Financial worries are impacts that may be impossible to capture as there are numerous variables that contribute to the families worries. Even if individuals didn’t lose their employment, working from home while special needs children had distance learning, this created worries in their educational advantages and the caregivers work-life balance (Calderwood, et al, 2022).
Special needs families also experience mood changes that were unlike pre-pandemic times. Understanding that the challenges of loss and worry will create alternate moods unfortunately. The impacts of Covid and mood changes are directly correlated as the things individual families were accustomed to were no longer available. While we are still in the grasps of Covid, we have yet to determine its long-term impacts on special needs children and their families.
A great resource for families trying to understand PTSD is located at www.ptsd.va.gov. this website has a plethora of information for families and individuals affected by trauma. An additional reference for struggling members of the LGBTQ community is located at www.hrc.org, the human rights campaign. Thinking about resources for special needs families a resource is located at, www.nih.gov. The national institute of environmental health can provide families with information on various subjects that can aid their lives.
Calderwood, C., Breaux, R., ten Brummelhuis, L. L., Mitropoulos, T., & Swanson, C. S. (2022). When daily challenges become too much during COVID-19: Implications of family and work demands for work–life balance among parents of children with special needs. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000333.supp (Supplemental)
Guthrie-Gower, S., & Wilson-Menzfeld, G. (2022). Ex-military personnel’s experiences of loneliness and social isolation from discharge, through transition, to the present day. PLoS ONE, 17(6), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0269678
Mark, K. M., McNamara, K. A., Gribble, R., Rhead, R., Sharp, M.-L., Stevelink, S. A. M., Schwartz, A., Castro, C., & Fear, N. T. (2019). The health and well-being of LGBTQ serving and ex-serving personnel: a narrative review. International Review of Psychiatry, 31(1), 75–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2019.1575190
Nydegger, L., DiFranceisco, W., Quinn, K., Dickson-Gomez, J., & Nydegger, L. A. (2017). Gender Norms and Age-Disparate Sexual Relationships as Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence, and Risky Sex among Adolescent Gang Members. Journal of Urban Health, 94(2), 266–275. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-016-0068-3
Tuteja, A. K., Talley, N. J., Stoddard, G. J., & Verne, G. N. (2019). Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study of Rifaximin and Lactulose Hydrogen Breath Test in Gulf War Veterans with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 64(3), 838–845. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-018-5344-5