MEMPHIS, Tennessee — In a year marked by more homicides and gunshot victims, there will soon be a new program aimed at helping kids with the trauma of violence.
Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the University of Memphis' BRAIN CENTER have joined together to provide mental health service to children treated at Le Bonheur.
“I had a child, a girl, who was injured by a firearm and died while I was taking care of her,” said Regan Williams, the director at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Trauma Center. “That was the defining moment and I think that was back in like ‘15 or ’16. But it was this defining moment where I was like we have to do something.”
And do more.
Williams said they’re seeing more child gunshot victims every year.
So far in 2020, Le Bonheur’s trauma center has had 115 firearm injuries, 89 in 2019 and 67 in 2018.
“We’ve looked at all our firearm injuries for the last 15 years,” said Williams. “We’ve found that about half of them are related to unsafe storage.”
The other half are considered intentional, of those 80 percent were drive-by shootings.
The solution is providing mental health services to prevent the buildup of trauma.
“Coping mechanisms, deep breathing and how do you work through what happened to you,” explained Williams. “So you can continue to grow and learn and attend school and be a normal kid.”
Williams is working with Eraina Schauss, the founder of the University of Memphis' BRAIN CENTER.
“Everything that we’ll be doing will be evidence-based,” said Schauss. “There’s nothing that’s new or revolutionary. We’re just using an approach that’s holistic.”
Schauss said trauma can get stuck in our brains causing us to be paralyzed.
“We use our techniques and our tools and what we know about neuroscience and evidence-based practice to help people understand like okay here’s some very basic tools that I can use to kind of move through this process.”
The program begins in January.