Our Storytellers: Our story through the eyes of our employees
Heather Trish, Trauma Services & Suicide Prevention Manager
How long have you been at Jefferson Center, and how has your role changed over the years?
I have been working at Jefferson Center for 12 years. Previously, I was working in New York City for the 9/11 Mental Health Program. Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, I began thinking about moving back to Colorado with my growing family. That is when I found Jefferson Center.
I began as a part-time Trauma Clinician at the Center, and remained in that role for around eight years. I loved that work, and I still do some direct service work in my current role. The clinical trauma work is what I am most passionate about. Shortly after I began, I was approached to begin working as a part time Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Center, so I took that on about 11 years ago. Another piece of my role included developing the kinship program – this involved running the Relatives as Parents Support Group and supporting individuals who are caring for kin.
About two years ago we started the Zero Suicide Initiative at the Center. This project has been a huge undertaking with a lot of folks from throughout every aspect of the Center working on ways to reduce client suicide deaths and make sure they are getting the support and care that they need. We have trained staff in a clinical suicide care framework and now require all new employees to attend suicide prevention training.
It has been a long journey for me, touching on a lot of different areas of the Center, but all very fulfilling in different ways. It is an honor and a privilege to be able to do the difficult work that we get to do here – I am always cognizant of that aspect because I truly love what I do. I love working with our staff. I am very passionate about making sure that they’re providing quality services and are doing it in a way where they are taking care of themselves. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s pretty difficult to help other people.
How has Jefferson Center changed since you started here?
Well, there are a lot more people! When I started there were maybe 250 employees, which was a lot smaller than the organization I had been working with in New York City. Coming to Jefferson Center it felt like you knew everybody.
We offer specialized services and community services that have grown over the years, and we are truly embedded in the community in that sense. I believe that we touch lives in every corner and have always felt proud to work here.
Can you share an experience that you’ll never forget while working at Jefferson Center?
I’ve had so many. What I remember most are the success stories that I’ve had over the years with clients while doing direct trauma work. Those “aha” moments, recognizing that on an assessment a client’s symptom reduction was tremendous and life changing, those are pieces that I can hold onto long term that will always impact me.
What does your work with Suicide Prevention look like within the community?
We have been providing suicide prevention trainings for much longer than I have been at the Center. We’ve trained thousands of individuals and provided a variety of gatekeeper training modalities since I’ve been a part of this work. Right now we offer community trainings including the QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training, the safeTALK Suicide Alertness Training and the ASIST Suicide Intervention Skills Workshop. It is wonderful that we are able to offer these training classes to community members and organizations alike.