Adverse Childhood Experiences

Awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences

By Jim Uhernik, LPC, Director of Business Development

Last week, Mount Saint Vincent participated in the 2015 Mental Health in the Sangres Symposium at Colorado State University–Pueblo. This conference, organized by local child welfare agencies and the regional community mental health center, highlighted the importance of understanding how adverse childhood experiences can impact individuals, families, and communities.

Among the dozen presenters at the conference, Mount Saint Vincent’s clinical director, Kirk Ward, LCSW, facilitated a training session that examined how research has shown that adverse childhood experiences can impact the brain. Speaking to a crowded room of advocates, foster parents, social workers, and clinicians, Ward illustrated how Mount Saint Vincent uses the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) to assess and provide developmentally appropriate support to the children we serve. The session provoked a lot of thoughtful questions and good dialogue about how we, as individuals and as a system, can more effectively support those who experienced adverse childhood experiences. Moreover, Ward challenged to audience to look at adverse childhood experiences from a public health perspective and consider the social and economic benefits of early intervention.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest studies ever conducted that looks at the link between childhood trauma and health and well-being later in life. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego. The ACE Study suggests that certain traumatic experiences in childhood are major risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes, and many autoimmune diseases. Click here to get your ACE score.

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