Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that occur during childhood and can have a lasting impact on an individual’s physical and mental health. ACEs can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; exposure to violence or substance abuse in the home; and household dysfunction, such as having a parent who is incarcerated or suffering from a mental illness.
Research has shown that experiencing ACEs can have significant negative impacts on an individual’s health and well-being. Children who experience ACEs are at a higher risk for a variety of physical and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
It’s important to recognize that ACEs are not uncommon. In fact, nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States have experienced at least one ACE, and the more ACEs an individual has experienced, the greater the impact on their health.
However, it’s important to note that ACEs do not have to define an individual’s life. There are ways to mitigate the negative effects of ACEs and promote healing and resilience. Therapy, especially trauma-focused therapy, can be an effective way to help individuals cope with and heal from the effects of ACEs. Building a supportive network of friends, family, and mental health professionals can also be incredibly helpful in promoting healing and resilience.
It’s important to recognize that ACEs are a public health issue and that we can all play a role in supporting individuals who have experienced ACEs. By creating supportive and safe environments for children and promoting mental health resources for all individuals, we can work towards a future where ACEs are not as common and their negative impacts are minimized.