By Laura Walker, staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions
Greeks believed in Mind-Body Dualism – in which the mind and body are thought to exist independently where one has no effect on the other. However modern research has shown that matters of mental health have a great impact on physical health.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, originally conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), examined 17,000 adults screened for their exposure to 10 trauma-inducing stimuli: physical, sexual and emotional abuse; physical and emotional neglect; domestic violence; household substance abuse; household mental illness; parental separation and incarceration. In evaluating health records, the study found that children exposed to these types of trauma were exponentially more likely to partake in adulthood high-risk behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, and being severely obese. Childhood trauma also correlated with increased likelihood of developing depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and a shortened lifespan. This landmark study leaves no question between the interrelated nature of mentally healthy children and physically healthy adults.
The ACE study noted that two-thirds of participants had at least one ACE, and 87 percent had at least two, showing that these stimuli affect a wide sector of the population. Researchers concluded, however, that when children received swift and proper treatment to cope with their trauma, they experienced much healthier outcomes than children who did not.
“We sometimes take for granted the way stress affects our children because they appear so resilient,” said Meghan Burns, LPC, Outpatient Therapist with Canopy Children’s Solutions. “Studies have shown that positive one-on-one interaction between a parent and child can help build resiliency and teach better coping and adaptive skills that can lead to greater all-around health.”
Parents play a critical role in teaching their children how to develop good mental and physical health habits. Here are a few ways parents can promote healthy habits with their children:
Learning early how to support a healthy mind and body is one of the greatest things you can do for your health. Spend at least 15 minutes a day doing one or two of these above activities one-on-one with your child to build a stronger relationship and maintain good mental health.
Canopy Children’s Solutions offers an array of behavioral health, educational and social service solutions to children and families throughout Mississippi. For more information, please visit mycanopy.org or call 800-388-6247.