Welcome to the Consortium on Trauma, Illness, and Grief (TIG) website. Since 2001, TIG has dedicated itself to preparing school districts to have appropriate mental health support in place when they must respond to events involving trauma, violence, illness and death. Knowing what to do can be the difference between stability and upheaval. With over 500 TIG trained school staff, TIG representation extends across Monroe and surrounding counties creating a supportive network to respond effectively in times of crisis. As TIG continues to grow, it will remain focused on its commitment to helping Districts prepare, respond effectively, and recover from a crisis. We hope this website supports you in this important and essential work.
Samantha S. Colson, MSW
TIG Program Coordinator
Monroe County Office of Mental Health – Rochester, NY
To maintain and grow a community and school-based consortium of culturally sensitive and clinically appropriate training, support, and resource services to assist schools in responding to the emotional needs of children, teachers, and other school personnel, which arise from trauma, violence, illness, grief and loss.
As a Greater Rochester, multi-agency effort, it is the goal of TIG to prepare school districts to have appropriate mental health support in place when they must respond to events involving trauma, violence, illness and death. During times of a district- or school-wide crisis, school districts can deploy responders from both within and outside of the school in a coordinated and systematic manner thus maximizing their response. Moreover, one of the outcomes of the consortium model has been that TIG teams and community agencies have formed ongoing working associations. In keeping the size of TIG teams small, members have come to know one another and, in the event of a district-wide emergency, a school district can be assured that TIG teams helping from other districts are familiar with their own team and trained in similar models of crisis intervention and assistance.
School personnel are considered the front-line interventionists for the children within their schools. The district TIG team consists of mental health staff and other school staff (i.e., school social worker, school psychologist, school nurse, safety & security, transportation, etc.). The size of the team varies dependent on the district enrollment. Current TIG teams range in size from four to forty staff members. While the TIG team may also be members of their school or district crisis team, it is not the intent of this project to usurp or supplant existing school crisis teams. The opportunities provided by the TIG Consortium are meant to enhance existing teams through the intensive training and support around the content of trauma, illness, grief and loss responses and interventions. District superintendents may designate an existing crisis team to become the district’s TIG Team or assemble a separate team consisting of school clinical staff. Each district’s TIG Team joins with the TIG Teams from other districts to form the core recipients for the intensive training and continuing support offered by and through the TIG Program Manager and Community Partners.
The TIG Consortium prepares school staff to meet the holistic needs of students as well as individual, group, and/or community response. This expertise can then be drawn upon to provide professional development on key topics within their own districts as well as increase their own personal efficacy. TIG trained staff can also serve as linkages between school personnel seeking assistance and the other resources of the Consortium. TIG Teams have access to:
- The TIG seven-module core training curriculum and training manual.
- Ongoing consultation with TIG Program Coordinator to facilitate implementation of TIG within the school district.
- A TIG website (tigconsortium.org) containing materials on various relevant topics which can be downloaded for teachers, other school staff, and families. In addition, team members have access to password protected TIG training materials.
- A TIG resource library and listserv to share articles, training materials, relevant research and other resources to support individual and professional development.
- Backup agreement and support from other TIG Teams or the Monroe County Disaster Mental Health Team in the event of catastrophic/system-wide crisis.
Children are affected more than we might assume by major and minor losses. Traumatic events and serious illnesses or deaths of family members and friends as well as members of their school family can have a profound impact on these young lives. Even tragic community events, not directly experienced by a child, can leave an indelible mark.
In recent years, Rochester community educators have had to help children cope with numerous well-publicized events: a fatal automobile accident, the sexual assault of a child; the murder of an adolescent; the murder-suicide of a father and mother; and the suicide or other sudden death of a teacher, principal, or student– and these are only the “headline events.” More quietly, in classrooms across our area, teachers and other school personnel are trying to help children cope with the daily, unpublicized tragedies that affect our classrooms, the serious illness or death of a classmate, parent or other family member, teacher, pet or, perhaps, the serious illness of students themselves.
Somewhere between math and reading, children often turn to trusted teachers for support and help to understand sad events in their lives. School is a primary resource for children offering continuity, safety, information, and support for their growth and success. To some, it is truly their second family. School personnel, especially teachers, are often a front-line resource for children experiencing trauma, illness, death and loss — both at times of immediate crisis and in subsequent years, as children continue to adapt and mature.
We know that after events related to trauma and loss, the ensuing emotional reactions of children can have a significant impact on their learning and classroom behavior, as well as on their relationships and interactions with classmates, teachers and often the larger school community. Even normal reactions, such as grieving after a death, can become problematic if not understood and responded to with cultural sensitivity and developmental appropriateness. We also know that adjustment following major trauma and loss is an ongoing process that requires support over a period of several years, as the child’s developmental needs evolve, anniversary dates occur, and new loss events cause trauma and grief reactions to resurface or even trigger the re-experiencing of the initial trauma itself.
In preparing to address these issues in school settings, commitment is needed from the community to assist schools with this task. By tapping into the richness of existing clinical resources and developing partnerships with the community’s academic and medical institutions, agencies, services, and professionals, schools can be supported in a systematic way. A school-based crisis team, supported by the community, can be prepared not only to respond to an acute emergency, but also can train other school personnel to be aware of “teachable moments.” Such a team can prepare their school buildings in advance of potentially tragic events and offer sustained after-crisis care. This has the promise to be an effective way to deliver supportive and preventive services, thereby reducing potential negative impact on the school environment and enhancing the coping, emotional health and learning abilities of children and adolescents.