HOPE Bags: Hold On Pain Ends
In recognizing the growing incidence of self-injury, the Trauma Institute of Orange County collaborated this year on a special project with youth in our community who have learned healthy alternatives to managing intense emotions and overcome the urge to harm themselves. The end result of this collaboration was the creation of H.O.P.E bags. The institute was happily overwhelmed with the number of clinicians wanting these free bags. Unfortunately our total supply of these bags was depleted within hours of posting the notice that they were available. As we continue to get requests for the bags, we are sharing our ‘recipe’ for what we used.
These bags included:
- Letters of Inspiration and Inspirational Sayings and Pictures (PDF) written by survivors and their families
- Handouts on Alternative Coping and Distraction Strategies (PDF)from Cornell University
- A DBT inspired inspirational booklet named ‘Elf Help’ (PDF), designed to help people manage and tolerate stress and distress- learn more at the DBT self help website
- A list of songs (PDF)chosen by survivors and their families that have been helpful for them in trying to change their mood and negative focus
- Community Resources: Helpline pamphlet (Crisis Call Center Number 800-832-1200 Flyer in Spanish) and a Text 4 Teens card (texting Number 845-391-1000), both from the Mental Health Association. These resources are available from the Mental Health Association of Orange County 845-342-2400
- Items to engage the senses and help one tolerate or distract themselves. Some of these items include:
- Bendable figures
- Body lotion
- Bracelets with inspirational words,
- Bubble wrap
- Chinese yo yos
- Jacob’s ladder game
- Jolly rancher and pop rocks candy
- Markers and stickers for skin
- Mini games and puzzles (note, we found that the one pictured was not helpful as it was too difficult and created frustration).
- Slap bracelets
- Stress balls
- Tea bags
The Trauma Institute was able to distribute 100 bags to youth struggling to recover from self-injury through community providers (i.e. therapists, school social workers, etc.). It is our desire that this project will provide ways for others to work with youth to create their own HOPE bags using the letters and handouts for inspiration.
Please feel free to contact the Trauma Institute of Orange County for tips, advice and thoughts on how to teach your patients to use these kits.
Thank you for all of your interest and support in this project!
Kristen Fortuna and Robin Guiney
Co-Chairs of the Trauma Institute of Orange County