Public Health Wales and the University of Bangor have published their report on the relationship between resilience and the onset of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
The report gives clues for those working with both children and adults – about how to mitigate the impact of ACEs…


Results show that the more ACEs people suffered the greater their risk of mental illness throughout life.
Having ever had treatment for a mental illness increased from 23% of those with no ACEs to 64% of those with four or more. For ever having felt suicidal or self-harmed the rise was from 6% to 39%.

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Developing resilience through access to:

  • a trusted adult in childhood
  • supportive friends, and
  • being engaged in community activities, such as sports…

…all reduced the risks of developing mental illness; even in those who experienced high levels of ACEs.
Overall, having supportive friends, opportunities for community participation, people to look up to and other sources of resilience in childhood more than halved current mental illness in adults with four or more ACEs from 29% to 14%; and ever having felt suicidal or self-harmed from 39% to 17%.

Image courtesy of ©Public Health Wales

Participation in sports both as a child and adult was a further source of resilience to mental illness, with being in current treatment for mental illness reducing from 23 per cent in adults that did not regularly participate in sports to 12 per cent in those that did.

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and International Development for Public Health Wales, said: “Around one in eight adults in Wales experienced high levels of ACEs such as abuse, neglect and domestic violence in childhood. This study shows how such childhoods can affect the mental health of individuals throughout their lives.

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“However, our results also suggest that communities providing opportunities to engage and develop skills, treating children fairly and offering good role models may help protect individuals from some of the harmful long-term impacts of abusive homes.

“For too many people in Wales, ACEs are still part of childhood and a burden some carry with them throughout life.”

 

Final word…

In my view, the most heartening thing about this latest offering on ACEs, is the hope it gives to those children who are engaged with services that work relationally.

In the end, it’s less about what we do with children, than is about the fact that we build relationships with them and show them a better way.

Relational working – in the end it’s less about WHAT the intervention is and more about WHO it is.

 

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