- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE).
- Mental Health & Stigma
- Originally posted 29Jan2020 – LinkedIn Pulse
Addressing ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) & Mental Health Stigma
By Kevin R. Strauss, M.E.
In a recent and very rich conversations here on LinkedIn, a conversation occurred around the topic of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) and “mental health”. The conversation turned toward Attachment Theory, relationships, and connection.
The specific questions asked, which I’m converting into this article, were:
- How can we help people connect and attach? (Since it is such a critical human need to being nurtured.)
- How can we end the stigma and judgement around mental health in our society?
I’d like to share my responses below…
[We humans have a basic need to] Connect authentically and stop shaming, judging, neglecting and rejecting our children.
E.g. 1 Teaching a child to “cry itself to sleep, in its own room” is emotional neglect and emotional abuse.
E.g. 2 Telling a child “not to cry”, “don’t be so emotional”, “put your big-boy pants on”, etc. are forms of shame and rejection.
E.g. 3 Praising kids for “good” grades and punishing for “bad” grades is judgement and giving or withholding love based on behavior.
Kids need to be loved no matter what. While we may love our kids unconditionally that is rarely the message they are receiving.
[We, humanity and the “mental health” industry needs to] Shift the paradigm from a Mental Health model to one of Emotional Health.
Recognize that behaviors are a person’s solution to an existing problem; a way to “ease their pain”.
It is NOT that a person cannot “think” their way to “good” behavior. It is that a person is in so much emotional pain (i.e. not feeling loved) that even a destructive behavior is preferred, especially in the short term.
The stigma ends because we realize a person is not broken and consciously (i.e. cognitive reasoning) choosing destructive behaviors.
The stigma ends because we realize people are in pain and need our help, our love, our support, and a place to belong.
Definitions – Revised
My answers above are based on definitions that are currently not mainstream but I believe will help greatly if used moving forward.
- Mental Health – A person’s ability to focus, concentrate, think clearly and perform cognitive tasks. (i.e. our “thinking” ability)
- Emotional Health – A person’s ability to give and receive love, connection and belonging. (i.e. our “feeling” ability)
I hope this helps provide an alternative perspective and approach to the epidemic humanity is facing and one that provides a potential for hope… afterall, our current methods clearly are not working.