What do we mean when we say adversity, toxic stress or resilience? To have a conversation that crosses disciplines—medicine, mental health, social service, juvenile justice, education—and includes everyone from health policy experts to grass-roots organizers, we need to be clear about our terms.
While the term “collective impact” is not limited to the work of building resilient communities, this approach to social change, which is the influential process wherein different sectors—for example, juvenile justice, education and social services—share an agenda and goals, has been key to creating successful social change. Collective impact initiatives, unlike simple collaborations, have a “backbone organization,” shared measurement systems, continuous communication and mutually reinforcing activities. More
Hardship, distress or suffering. In the context of ACEs, adversity refers to circumstances in a child’s life including neglect, abuse and family dysfunction. It can also refer to hardships faced by individuals and communities due to natural disaster, violence, discrimination or poverty. More
Allostasis, Allostatic Load
Allostasis refers to the way the brain and body respond to challenges or stresses: by reacting, adapting and then recovering. But if the stress is extreme, negative and unrelenting, the brain and body pay a price. That accumulated wear-and-tear, called allostatic load, can cause chemical imbalances, accelerate certain diseases, and even alter brain structures. Genetics, early brain development, the social and physical environment, diet and other behaviors can all influence a person’s allostatic load.
Learn more at www.macses.ucsf.edu/research/allostatic/allostatic.php
When children are exposed to multiple traumatic events, such as ongoing physical or sexual abuse, witnessing family or community violence, or separation from family members, they may suffer complex trauma, with deep and long-lasting effects on their ability to think, learn and relate to others. Research has shown that the more ACEs a person has, the higher his or her risk for problems including addiction, chronic physical conditions, depression and anxiety, self-harming behaviors, and other psychiatric disorders.
Learn more at www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/complex-trauma