How can our community better serve people, knowing the potential effects of adverse childhood experiences?
In late June, CMHA Waterloo Wellington joined a host of other community partners and organizations in asking that question.
Community leaders heard from Dr. Jean Clinton, a renowned child psychiatrist and associate professor at McMaster University, about the power of resilience in overcoming adverse childhood experiences.
“Our biology is not [our] destiny,” Dr. Clinton told members from CMHA WW, Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County, Guelph Community Health Centre, Toward Common Ground, Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, and others.
The ACE Study was done by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the mid-late 1990s, surveying over 17,000 volunteers. Researchers found that the greater number of adverse childhood experiences an individual had, the likelier they were to experience problems later in life.
Dr. Clinton focused on the importance of communities that create positive environments in reducing adverse childhood experiences and their effects.
“For me, a resilient community is one where individuals have access to both formal and informal supports as needed – which could be food, clothing, medical care, recreation, and mental health services – without stigma or shame,” says Brett Friesen, Manager of Children’s Services at CMHA WW.
“Building [resilience] isn’t about individuals’ characteristics,” says Dr. Clinton, “It’s about enabling people to access relational supports.”
Header photo from Erin Harvey via Twitter (@sevrah).