The APA Stress in 2020 Survey and Overlapping Symptomology

The American Psychological Association’s 2020 Stress in America survey revealed that Americans are experiencing a significant and negative impact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Americans of all ages are struggling to cope with the disruption—on top of other factors creating stress, including political conflict, burdens of racism, and an economic downturn. The APA has declared a mental health crisis that will yield physical and behavioral health problems, as well as social consequences for decades.

The unfortunate reality is that the stress Americans have endured has been chronic and exaggerated. With such prolonged exposure, emotional and behavior regulation becomes difficult. What we can expect to observe in the youth we work with in clinical and education settings are symptoms and reactions that will look like many other mental health disorders. It will be important for us to remember that our observations might direct us toward diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities. However, with all that is going on in the lives of youth, we must be curious and cautious before assuming, labeling or assigning a diagnosis. While the presenting symptoms and reactions may look like a mental health disorder, we must remember to consider the underlying drivers of what we observe. As we have said before, a small amount of stress is tolerable, but our central nervous systems are not made to handle the marathon of stress created by an almost yearlong, global pandemic.  Normalization of the stress response, the practice of stress reducing strategies, and connection to as many protective factors as possible should be our priorities as child caring professionals.

For access to the full APA Stress in 2020 report:

While we know trauma is a fact, so is resilience. Despite the threat of an upcoming trauma tsunami facing our nation due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there is hope. We are seeing proof of the hope every day as parents, essential workers, and communities come together. We are calling on our nation’s congressional leadership, and policymakers at every level, to join this campaign, and support trauma-informed policies and provisions. Together we will be resilient.

Mental health disorders are the most common diseases of childhood. Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment & Differential Diagnosis will provide participants an understanding of the significant overlapping symptomology between mental health disorders and childhood trauma, and a clear view of what it looks like in schools and classrooms. In addition, the gap between the need and treatment of mental health problems in schools will be discussed. Participants will learn practical ways they can help, including: reducing the stigma of mental health, bridging the gaps between treatment and need, and focusing on fostering and nurturing characteristics of resilience in students. Watch the trailer below.

Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Focused Assessment  and Differential Diagnosis is on sale now!

By Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW

Dr. Caelan Soma, PsyD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer, oversees all clinical operations and research at Starr Commonwealth. Dr. Soma provides trauma assessment and trauma-informed, resilience-focused intervention for youth utilizing evidence-based practices, including Starr’s SITCAP© model programs.

About Starr Commonwealth

Starr Commonwealth is dedicated to the mission to lead with courage to create positive experiences so that all children, families, and communities flourish. We specialize in residential, community-based, educational, and professional training programs that build on the strengths of children, adults, and families in communities around the world. To schedule a training or consultation, please contact or call 800-837-5591.