The Impact of Stress and Trauma

Communities across the country are beginning to recognize the impact stress and trauma have on society’s overall health. Research, including the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, demonstrates that adverse events and stress – especially persistent, toxic stress or traumatic incidents – can lead to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer, as well as depression, alcoholism and drug abuse.

Trauma and toxic stress are pervasive. More than half of the general adult population has experienced at least one major traumatic event. Toxic stress and trauma can impact anyone and occur at any point in a lifetime. Trauma can change the structure of the brain, especially for very young children. If an individual’s body is responding to acute stress for a prolonged period, whether a child or adult, the increased adrenaline and other hormones can cause increased blood sugars, heart rates and changes in blood flow along with other often harmful biological responses.

As we start acknowledging the impact that stress and trauma can have on our health, we can start to develop skills for coping with the bad things that happen and develop strategies to prevent them from happening. You are invited to learn more about the ACE Study, the public health implications of trauma and stress and how other cities around the country are working to address these issues.

Alive and Well STL hosted conversations about how we build a trauma-informed community. These case studies were developed by Alive and Well STL Ambassadors to promote new conversations about how we can become trauma informed.

Investing in Emotional Well-Being: A Community Action Forum

On April 7, 2016, more than 300 community members and stakeholders gathered for “Investing in Emotional Well-Being: A Community Action Forum” to spur individual and collective action to reduce stigma and encourage support for behavioral health services in the St. Louis region. Continue the conversation with in your community with these resources: