Trauma and Serious Mental Illness

Published April 2022

The Psychiatric Services Editor’s Choice provides essential curated collections from recent issues of Psychiatric Services.  Each month, Editor Lisa Dixon and the Early Career Psychiatrist Advisory Committee offer a curated collection from the rich resource of articles published in the journal. Updates will focus on one area, summarizing for the researcher, clinician, and policy analyst the latest information and seminal research with links to specific content from Psychiatric Services.

Understanding the experience of individuals with serious mental illness is important for the development of services to promote recovery. Symptoms arising from serious mental illness may predispose a person to experience traumatic events and to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is also evidence that childhood adversity and trauma are strongly associated with increased risk for serious mental illness. Although many studies have reported higher rates of trauma exposure among persons with serious mental illness compared with the general population, the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of PTSD in most mental health centers remain suboptimal, and traumatic experiences are often overlooked and unaddressed. Lack of diagnosis and treatment may be due to many factors, including lack of training, fear that discussing traumatic experiences may worsen psychiatric symptoms, and concern that other symptoms are more detrimental than those that are trauma related.

The first sections of this month’s Editor’s Choice Collection address how trauma can contribute to the development of serious mental illness and the importance of screening for trauma in this population. The final sections address the impact of trauma on serious mental illness and solutions for treating trauma of people with serious mental illness.

Please note that not all articles in this curated collection are available without a subscription. For access, learn about subscribing to Psychiatric Services.


Beliefs About the Causes of Psychosis Among Persons With Psychosis and Mental Health Professionals: A Scoping Review
Rotem Rosenthal Oren, M.A., David Roe, Ph.D., Ilanit Hasson-Ohayon, Ph.D., Stephanie Roth, M.L.I.S., Elizabeth C. Thomas, Ph.D., Yaara Zisman-Ilani, M.A., Ph.D.
2021; Volume 72, Issue 10, pp. 1178–1192

State Legislators’ Opinions About Adverse Childhood Experiences as Risk Factors for Adult Behavioral Health Conditions
Jonathan Purtle, Dr.P.H., M.Sc., Félice Lê-Scherban, Ph.D., M.P.H., Xi Wang, Ph.D., Emily Brown, M.S.W., Mariana Chilton, Ph.D., M.P.H.
2019; Volume 70, Issue 10, pp. 894–900

Untreated Posttraumatic Stress Among Persons With Severe Mental Illness Despite Marked Trauma and Symptomatology
Chloe E. Chessen, B.A., Katherine Anne Comtois, Ph.D., M.P.H., Sara J. Landes, Ph.D.
2011; Volume 62, Issue 10, pp. 1201–1206

Trauma History Screening in a Community Mental Health Center
Karen J. Cusack, Ph.D., B. Christopher Frueh, Ph.D., Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D.
2004; Volume 55, Issue 2, pp. 157–162

Service Use and Self-Reported Symptoms Among Persons With Positive PTSD Screens and Serious Mental Illness
Shula K. Minsky, Ed.D., Weili Lu, Ph.D., Steven M. Silverstein, Ph.D., Michael Gara, Ph.D., Jennifer D. Gottlieb, Ph.D., Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D.
2015; Volume 66, Issue 8, pp. 845–850

Psychotic-Spectrum Symptoms, Trauma, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Suicidal Inner-City Women
Susan L. Reviere, Ph.D., Julie Battle, Ph.D., Eugene W. Farber, Ph.D., Nadine J. Kaslow, Ph.D.
2003; Volume 54, Issue 9, pp. 1290–1292

Does a Study Focused on Trauma Encourage Patients With Psychotic Symptoms to Seek Treatment? 
Lawrence V. Amsel, M.D., M.P.H., Noel Hunter, M.A., San Kim, B.A., Kinga E. Fodor, M.A., John C. Markowitz, M.D.
2012; Volume 63, Issue 4, pp. 386–389

The Subjective Experience of Youths at Clinically High Risk of Psychosis: A Qualitative Study
Shelly Ben-David, M.S.W. Michael L. Birnbaum, M.D. Mara E. Eilenberg, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. Jordan E. DeVylder, M.S., Ph.D. Kelly E. Gill, M.A. Jessica Schienle, M.S. Neyra Azimov, B.A. Ellen P. Lukens, Ph.D. Larry Davidson, Ph.D. Cheryl M. Corcoran, M.D., M.S.
2014; Volume 65, Issue 12, pp. 1499–1501

Perceived Trauma During Hospitalization and Treatment Participation Among Individuals With Psychotic Disorders
Diana Paksarian, M.P.H., Ph.D., Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D., Roman Kotov, Ph.D., Bernadette Cullen, M.B.B.Ch., Katie L. Nugent, Ph.D., Evelyn J. Bromet, Ph.D.
2014; Volume 65, Issue 2, pp. 266–269

Integrating Trauma-Informed Care Principles in Behavioral Health Service Organizations
Kelly Conover, L.C.S.W., Cheryl Sharp, M.S.W., A.L.W.F., Anthony Salerno, Ph.D.
2015; Volume 66, Issue 9, p. 1004 [Letter]

Use of Fidelity Assessments to Train Clinicians in the CBT for PTSD Program for Clients With Serious Mental Illness
Weili Lu, Ph.D., Philip T. Yanos, Ph.D., Jennifer D. Gottlieb, Ph.D., Stephanie Marcello Duva, Ph.D., Steven M. Silverstein, Ph.D., Haiyi Xie, Ph.D., Stanley D. Rosenberg, Ph.D., Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D.
2012; Volume 63, Issue 8, pp. 785–792

Developing Effective Treatments for Posttraumatic Disorders Among People With Severe Mental Illness
Stanley D. Rosenberg, Ph.D., Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D., Matthew J. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., Paul G. Gorman, Ed.D., Robert E. Drake, M.D., Ph.D., Robert M. Vidaver, M.D., William C. Torrey, M.D., Mary K. Jankowski, Ph.D.
2001; Volume 52, Issue 11, pp. 1453–1461

  • Was this Helpful ?
  • YesNo

Join our #MissionForBetter now

Sign up for our newsletter. We’ll let you know about new resources, education, and more.