Adverse Childhood Expereinces
The experiences we have in childhood can have lasting effects well into adulthood. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can greatly influence positive outcomes. ACEs are traumatic events that occur in childhood, from 0-17 years old. Examples of these events include experiencing and/or witnessing abuse, neglect, violence, or death of a family member. Additionally, this can include mental illness of someone in the home, substance use in the home, a family member going to jail, or separation of caregivers. While this is not a comprehensive list, these are some of the traumatic experiences that a child can experience that can impact health and wellbeing. (1)
ACEs research shows that these events can negatively impact health, education, future job opportunities, and can lead to increased risk of mental illness, substance use, toxic stress, and cancer among other things. ACEs can sound scary, but the truth is they are common. According to the CDC, roughly 64% of adults have experienced at least one ACE, with many experiencing more than that. (1)
The good news is, ACEs can be prevented. Protective factors that can prevent ACEs include creating a safe and nurturing environment with stability and positive adult relationships. Making sure your child’s basic needs are met. Providing opportunities for positive relationships and social support. Interacting with your child through fun and engaging activities to promote healthy family bonding. Implementing consistent and age-appropriate rules for your child. (1)
What if you are already an adult who has experienced ACEs? You can still work on the traumas you have experienced and improve your own health and wellbeing. While trauma can affect us all in different ways, it is important to address. Choosing a therapist who is trained in trauma-informed approaches can be helpful. Additionally, attending scheduled annual exams with a healthcare provider can ensure you are receiving appropriate health prevention screenings and addressing any concerns. Making a change and addressing your mental and physical health can be scary, but it is also important. You are worth it.