In an ongoing conversation about how to support friends who are struggling with their mental health, it's important to have an honest discussion about trauma, and how it affects all of us. According to the Sidran Institute, it's estimated that around 70 percent of adults in the United States will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetimes, and around 20 percent of that population will go on to develop PTSD. Therefore, it's likely that you know someone who may have been affected by trauma in their lives, who may reach out to you seeking support — and, thanks to decades of stigma around mental illness that prevents us from having a dialogue around it, you may be at a loss for how to respond.
Studies have shown that disclosing trauma seems to reduce distress in people who are carrying it, and of course, we want to be there for our friends when they're having a hard time. But we can have many conflicting instincts in the moment of disclosure: to reassure the person, try to get them help, or dissociate from the experience ourselves. However, there are steps you can take in the moment of disclosure to help the person who's revealing their trauma and give them the support they need.