While mental health is often associated with adults, the state of our young minds is also important. Work by California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris openly discusses the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACE’s.
The term “ACEs” comes from a study published by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente over twenty years ago. ACE’s refer to ten categories of stressful or traumatic events. These include physical, emotional or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, “household dysfunction” including parental incarceration, mental illness, substance dependence, parental separation or divorce, or intimate partner violence.
“Childhood trauma increases the risk for seven out of ten of the leading causes of death in the United States. In high doses, it affects brain development, the immune system, hormonal systems, and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed. Folks who are exposed in very high doses have triple the lifetime risk of heart disease and lung cancer and a 20-year difference in life expectancy.”
– Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Founder of Center for Youth Wellness and current Surgeon General of California
For infants and toddlers who are exposed to persistent stress, these kinds of experiences can cause changes in brain structure, potentially harming their physical, emotional, and educational development far into the future.
Yet ACEs are not inevitable, nor do they have to determine the destiny of a child who experiences them. ACEs can be prevented, and when they do occur, concrete steps can be taken to help children heal. Healthy parent-child relationships, or other supportive relationships, can serve as a protective buffer, and help children foster resilience and thrive.
Some national resources are:
San Mateo County has compiled a list of resources for the community to help provide support networks for both children and their families. By building healthy connections, we build resilience and mitigate the effects of ACE’s.
Check out the resources below for more information:
If you are experiencing a Mental Health Emergency Call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room if you can safely get there. Psychiatric Emergency Services are available at:
San Mateo Medical Center
222 West 39th Ave., San Mateo, CA, 94403
Mills-Peninsula Medical Center
1501 Trousdale Drive, Burlingame, CA 94010
Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) exists to support the wellbeing of all teens, tweens, and young adults in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. ACS’ network of skilled family therapists and professionally-led support groups are resources that youth and their families can rely on time and again for help with life’s challenges, be they big or small.
HOPE Program is an outpatient mental health clinic specializing in working with adult and adolescent clients in individual and group settings. We provide treatment services to individuals, couples, and families coping with emotional, behavioral, or psychological challenges. We also offer specialized forensic mental health services.
Peninsula Family Service strengthens our community by providing children, families, and older adults the support and tools to realize their full potential and lead healthy, stable lives.
The Family Assertive Support Team is an in-home outreach service that offers assessment, consultation, and support services to adults (age 18+) in San Mateo County experiencing a severe mental health problem and their designated family members (broadly defined as individuals with close and enduring emotional ties).
StarVista is a non-profit organization that has been helping people throughout San Mateo County navigate life’s challenges for over 50 years. Our counseling, crisis prevention, youth housing, and outreach programs reach tens of thousands of people in our community each year.
Offers clinical counseling services in our three clinics in San Mateo County on a sliding fee scale and free to Medi-Cal and Victims of Crime (VOC) recipient.
Find more detailed mental health resources at: