(WKBN) – Today, WKBN’s Dee Crawford continues to look at efforts by the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board to address untreated trauma in people, especially young people. Trauma is considered a major factor in street crime and violence.

As we continue our in-depth conversation regarding trauma and the impact of trauma, we discuss violence in the community. What happened that the Mental Health and Recovery Board decided to be proactive in its approach to addressing trauma?

“Well, we know there’s a need in the community. I address all of Mahoning County to make sure that individuals are aware [of] the resources of it, particularly towards the minority communities and to serve populations. There are stigmas attached to mental health, and we want to reduce those stigmas. That’s my job, is to help them understand that it’s OK to receive help,” said Valerie Burney, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator for Mental Health for the Mental Health and Recovery Board. “It’s OK to understand that when you need help, you know, to move toward the help that’s available to you. So the more I’m out in the community to say this is a resource for you, this is a resource for you, individuals approach me all the time. When they see me set up, they see, oh, I need some information on mental health.”

“I needed to know that I didn’t know I wasn’t aware that that was available to me. So, like I said, the more I’m out, the more people realize, OK, I can do this, I can go out, I can get the help that I need. We’re getting ready to launch a new initiative to make sure that people understand that they can move toward the help and the resources that are available through our agencies that we work with,” Burney continued. “We just want people to know it’s OK. It is OK to get help, and as more we reduce those stigmas, especially with the young people, a lot of them, you know, they may not be comfortable all talking about [their issues]. We go when you have an issue with your arm, you know, you break your arm, you break your wrist, you break your leg. Even with your heart, your lungs, anything, we go to the doctor, you know, you readily go to emergency. We readily go to get that help. If there’s something going on mentally, it’s, ‘I don’t want anybody to know.'”

We’re seeing an increase in our community’s need for mental health care because of so much trauma. Our children are going to be going back to school. They’re dealing with that issue again. Our kids are more knowledgeable today than we were at their age because of the technology of dealing with back-to-school concerns about safety in school.

They’re using the internet now as a part of this whole issue of violence with our kids. Is the mental health system looking at ways of making a stronger presence in our educational systems?

“Yes. We want to be available… I have met with some school officials this year and I used to work a lot with all of the schools, so they are aware of who I am,” Burey said.

Burney added that the schools are now aware of who the Mental Health and Recovery Board is.

“We are a presence in this community and we want individuals to realize we are here. We’re here and we want to help,” Burney said.