What happens to babies and young children matters. The trauma they experience has a lasting impact.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) refer to a set of traumatic experiences that have been shown to be correlated with health and behavioral impacts later in the life.
- ACEs include: psychological, physical, or sexual abuse; violence against one’s mother; or living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or ever imprisoned.
- The more ACEs a person has experienced, the more likely they will have negative health, social and emotional consequences.
- ACEs are the greatest determinate of health – and thus offer the biggest opportunity for a shift.
What is Trauma-Informed Care?
Trauma is a near universal experience. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and wellbeing. Almost two-thirds of the study participants reported at least one adverse childhood experience of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or family dysfunction, and more than one of five reported three or more such experiences.
An individual’s experience of trauma impacts every area of human functioning — physical, mental, behavioral, social, spiritual. The ACE Study revealed that the economic costs of untreated trauma-related alcohol and drug abuse alone were estimated at $161 billion in 2000. The human costs are incalculable.
Trauma is shrouded in secrecy and denial and is often ignored. But when we don’t ask about trauma in behavioral healthcare, harm is done or abuse is unintentionally recreated by the use of forced medication, seclusion, or restraints.
The good news is that trauma is treatable — there are many evidence-based models and promising practices designed for specific populations, types of trauma, and behavioral health manifestations.