CW: trauma, ableism, racism, medical trauma
Trauma may be invisible, but its impacts are not. While technology conversations are expanding to include well-being, the impact of trauma still needs to be consciously considered in the conversation.
It’s difficult to look at data about trauma as it’s so subjective. An experience or situation can impact individuals differently. It’s also still so stigmatised, it wasn’t too long ago that trauma responses were called ‘nervous breakdowns’ and attributed to the ‘weakness’. That’s not to say the stigma isn’t very current and impacting diagnoses, referrals, treatments and health outcomes today. The racist perception of Black women as strong, for example, can led to medical mistreatment that denies them pain medication.
But we can look at some numbers (from Mind):
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England .
- 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England .
We can see that there are significant numbers involved. The impact of the covid 19 pandemic has yet to be seen but “children and young people with a probable mental disorder were more likely to say that lockdown had made their life worse (54.1% of 11 to 16 year olds, and 59.0% of 17 to 22 year olds), than those unlikely to have a mental disorder (39.2% and 37.3% respectively)” (Source: NHS).
All this means there is a significant and growing sector of the population whose needs have not been taken into account by many creative technologists to date.
I have spent the year researching trauma and technology, where they intersect and diverge, how to understand them better and mapping the fields of professional expertise within them. From this work and understanding, I have built a trauma informed data delivery framework for creative technologists. I deliver it in a series of workshops to support technologists in building trauma informed working into their development and delivery alongside other customer engagement and journey measures.
I immersed in reading and understanding approaches to trauma that take into account queer theory, disability counselling and anti-racism theory.
I spoke with designers of games, news, media and medical information about how we can think about trauma informed delivery. I am just beginning to work with organisations in a beta phase of the Traumula which you can read more about here.
It’s been a sesational experience and more than ever this year, I’m aware that our users will be experiencing trauma and if we aren’t attending to that, how can we know if what we create is unintentionally contributing to further harm or re-traumatisation? My work comes in when we are figuring out what to do about that.