Mayor Briley declares May 14 Adverse Childhood Experiences Awareness Day

Mayor David Briley

Mayor Briley has declared May 14 Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Awareness Day to underscore the importance of understanding, preventing and treating childhood trauma in order to improve the health and future prosperity of our entire community.

ACEs describes stressful or traumatic childhood experiences that are linked to public health problems such as obesity, addiction and mental illness. According to a study by the Sycamore Institute, almost 60% of Tennesseans have experienced an ACE, which cost approximately $5.2 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity from employees missing work in 2017.

“I declared today ACEs Awareness Day because we can always do more to see that our children have safe and nurturing environments to reach their greatest potential,” said Mayor Briley. “Science shows the chronic adverse impacts that toxic childhood stress has over a lifetime. By better understanding what happened to a person and not what’s wrong with them, we can find meaningful solutions to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease.”

As part of ACEs Awareness Day, Mayor Briley, members of the Metro Council, Metro department heads and select boards and commissions appointees will attend a screening of the award-winning documentary, Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope.

Also, in coordination with the Mayor’s Behavioral Health and Wellness Advisory Council (BHWAC), the advocacy group All Children Excel Nashville will host an ACEs Awareness Day event for city officials and leadership.

The BHWAC was established by Mayor Briley in 2018 to promote broad collaboration between government and community partners to support systems changes that will better serve residents and families in need. Members include service providers and public health experts, as well as representatives from the justice system, MNPS, faith communities and those living with a mental or behavioral health condition.

“Nashville’s continued prosperity depends on what we do now to prevent these experiences whenever possible and to mitigate their impact when they can’t be prevented,” said Dr. Bob Vero, CEO Centerstone Tennessee and BHWAC co-chair.

Leaders in Nashville have prioritized behavioral health and have made important progress toward systems improvement and prevention recently. In March, Mayor Briley and community leaders participated in the grand opening of the Mental Health Cooperative’s new crisis treatment center – a partnership between Metro, the State, and the Cooperative to provide a safe place for those in crisis. The center also serves as an important resource for first responders to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system to the care they need.

“ACEs are a public health issue and deserve a public health response. We are working to do all we can to address early childhood trauma and develop data-driven and trauma-informed solutions,” said Dr. Wendy Long, Metro Public Health Department Director.

In our schools, MNPS promotes widespread awareness about the impacts of ACEs on health, wellness, and school success, and drives trauma-informed school practices throughout the district.

MNPS also partners with the Metro Nashville Police Department to implement the Handle with Care program across all schools. The initiative provides timely information to school staff when a student is exposed to a potentially traumatic event that has resulted in a police report. Under this program, educators have the opportunity to mitigate the impacts of adversity and further enhance the social emotional health for students.