An Inconvenient Truth

inconvenient truthThanks to Al Gore, we have a phrase embedded in the collective consciousness which embodies the act of acknowledging a reality that is painful, unfortunate, or unpleasant. Mr. Gore was, of course, referring to climate change, and how the impact that continuing to deny the science would have consequences far greater than anyone can imagine. The movie of the same name was back in 2006 ~ how right he was. Climate change has been global, devastating, and relentless. As people continue to argue about the science, the world burns.

So it is with the consequences of childhood trauma. Developmental Trauma is an inconvenient truth.

It is Child and Youth Mental Health Day.

This is important ~ there’s not enough recognition of the mental health issues our children face, there’s not enough resources when we DO acknowledge the need for mental health services, and we don’t do enough to prevent the single most significant factor in child and youth mental health.

Episodic, persistent, chronic, or unremitting trauma in childhood (usually in the family of origin, but for many children, in the care of various versions of child welfare, social services, government ministries, or private agencies) has profoundly negative and lifelong consequences. As the work of Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris and Dr. Vincent Felitti have demonstrated, adverse events in childhood are not something children ‘get over.’ Experiencing the degree of chronic stress that trauma induces for an extended period of time fries the nervous system, inhibits brain development, and causes the formation of coping mechanisms or safety-making behaviours which carry on into adulthood.

Child and youth mental health is negatively impacted by these experiences, manifesting as anxiety, depression, suicidality, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, behavioural problems, academic failure, and ever earlier addictions to name only a few ways.

The key to making it different? One caring adult. 

Nearly all of the effects of childhood trauma are mitigated by one safe, secure attachment to an adult through those formative years. A ‘Cookie Person.’ That one adult who listens, takes the time to notice ~ really notice ~ where a child or adolescent is at mentally, emotionally, socially, and physically.  Literally (and metaphorically) having milk and cookies with a child or youth who needs to talk. To be heard. To be safe ~ to know where ‘safe’ can be found.

As this infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows, 64% of American adults have 1 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and there is a 95% likelihood that additional types of trauma accompany even 1 ACE. This is soooooo disturbing.

Infographic: The Truth About ACEs

How many of our child & youth mental health issues could be prevented if the experience of trauma were routinely assessed of children seeing paediatricians, nurse-practitioners, emergency room personnel, school counsellors, or accessing mental health services?  As Dr. Burke-Harris and her staff proved over the course of twenty years, routinely assessing children, educating parents, creating community resources, and when necessary, intervening for the sake of safety in a timely fashion can have a HUGE impact on mental wellness and health outcomes across the lifespan.

Our children are the future of the humanity.  Educate yourself on childhood trauma. Get involved in your community – here in Kelowna, Canadian Mental Health Association, The Foundry, Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, coaching amateur sports leagues, volunteering at the local school, getting to know your neighbours, and educating yourself are just a few of the ways you can make a difference.

Be that Cookie Person.

Additional resources:

https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/aces.html

The Deepest Well (Nadine Burke Harris)

https://centerforyouthwellness.org/our-story/

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

CMHA Kelowna

The Foundry Kelowna

 

Uganda and Screaming Grandsons

Hope North, Okello Kello Sam

Dr. Susannah is going to Uganda. She needs to raise funds for both the trip and resources for the professionals she’ll be teaching. Please… take a moment (well, five minutes) to watch the video, and if you feel led, please slide over to the GoFundMe page (link below) and donate, and/or pass the video around. She’ll be grateful.

Want to be a part of something awesome? Click the link (GoFundMe) below to help support the effort to provide literacy and trauma therapy to the children affected by conflict in Uganda. Thank you!
 

http://www.gofundme.com/foruganda

Oh, so right on.

Courtesy http://www.wfn360.com

LinkedIn via @Franc J. Pacheco, MEd, coughed up a great infographic on learning theory in my feed today. I checked it out, and the blog it’s attached to, and repost it here.

30+ years experience working with disenfranchised or marginalised learners and a doctoral thesis later, I’m impressed to see nearly everything I know and think is important about how peeps learn – distilled to a groovy visual.

Check it out.

 

Chronic Health Issues and the “Spoon Theory”

This is probably the best explanation I’ve ever read about what it’s like to struggle with chronic health issues. As someone in this situation myself (diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996), I understand completely. For those who live with, and love, an individual with a chronic illness it’s sometimes difficult to comprehend how much this changes the parameters of life.

Go ahead – take the time to read Christine’s blog post. It’s worth it.