Trauma-informed mental healthcare in the UK: What is it and how can we further its development?

Angela Sweeney*, Sarah Clement, Beth Filson, Angela Kennedy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to describe and explain trauma-informed approaches (TIAs) to mental health. It outlines evidence on the link between trauma and mental health, explains the principles of TIAs and their application in mental health and explores the extent to which TIAs are impacting in the UK. Design/methodology/approach - The approach is a conceptual account of TIAs including a consideration of why they are important, what they are and how they can become more prevalent in the UK. This is supported by a narrative overview of literature on effectiveness and a scoping of the spread of TIAs in the UK. Findings - There is strong and growing evidence of a link between trauma and mental health, as well as evidence that the current mental health system can retraumatise trauma survivors. There is also emerging evidence that trauma-informed systems are effective and can benefit staff and trauma survivors. Whilst TIAs are spreading beyond the USA where they developed, they have made little impact in the UK. The reasons for this are explored and ways of overcoming barriers to implementation discussed. Originality/value - This paper - authored by trauma survivors and staff - describes an innovative approach to mental health service provision that, it is argued, could have immense benefits for staff and service users alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-192
Number of pages19
JournalMental Health Review Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Childhood trauma
  • Mental health services
  • TIA
  • TIC
  • Trauma survivors
  • Trauma-informed


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