As we all know, Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, can cause a rise in a number of different mental health disorders. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ACEs are common problems and the effects of which can add up over time. For instance, 61 percent of adults had at least one ACE while 16 percent had four or more types of ACEs.
Preventing ACEs can help children thrive and can even lower the risk of conditions such as depression, asthma, cancer, and more in adulthood. It can also reduce risky behaviors such as smoking, improve education, and stop ACEs from being passed from one generation to the next.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, preventing ACEs can help prevent up to 21 million cases of depression, nearly 1.9 million cases of heart disease, and up to 2.5 million cases of obesity.
Overall, preventing ACEs could help to reduce the number of adults with depression by as much as 44 percent.
The first step in preventing ACEs is to raise awareness of the problem. Obviously, there are a number of ways this can be done. Public health campaigns and major organizations around the country are instrumental in ensuring that the message and ideas behind ACEs reach as many people as possible. For example, the World Health Organization has talked about the importance of understanding ACEs in the past.
“Viewed through a public lens, ACEs are widely prevalent; highly interrelated; and intergenerational...ACEs themselves are the primary problem, and for a truly preventive, upstream approach, public health and social development policies and programs need to be explicitly aimed at ACE reduction.”
Overall, this type of exposure for the problem is vital in order for the public to learn more about ACEs.
Along with these large international organizations, there are foundations and local efforts by communities that are being used to help bring awareness to these problems to the public eye. Along with just overall awareness, these organizations are also helping people learn what they can do to prevent these problems from progressing.
For instance, California’s Department of Health Care Services has a program called ACEs Aware that provides training opportunities for medical care providers to learn the importance of incorporating ACEs screenings in their clinical practice.
Similarly, another organization called the ACE Awareness Foundation is that is in place to help inform the greater Memphis community about the role that emotional trauma in mental, physical, and behavioral health.
There are many numerous local examples that can be shown to explain how important exposure is. While major change does happen at the local level, in order to make the initial changes, large organizations and influential people will need to discuss ACEs and how impactful they can be on someone’s overall health.
Raising awareness about ACEs can help to improve the prevention of these problems and shift the focus to community solutions. Reducing the stigma that surrounds people who seek help with parenting challenges or look for help with substance abuse or mental health disorders can all help reduce problems related to ACEs. It will also work to promote safe, stable and nurturing environments for children to live, learn, and play.
Unfortunately, people who do not learn more about ACEs and make the changes will forever be susceptible to problems such as depression, substance abuse, and other problems, and while mental health counseling and rehab is available to help people if the problem can be avoided in the first place that should be the priority.