Science has finally gotten around to proving something that many people have understood for a long time – that stress can be toxic for kids and the effects can last a lifetime.
This is especially important to note in Mission, after UBC’s “Middle Years” researchers found that local children experience an unusually high rate of anxiety-related issues.
Now, Mission’s Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Local Action Team (LAT) is trying to do something to address the problem.
“The LAT is a collaboration between Mission’s doctors and other community partners,” said Nicole Martin, project coordinator for the Mission division of Family Practice.
“Because we have evidence showing that stress is seriously undermining the health of our children and our entire community, we’re working to engage families and support people so that we can improve our resiliency at every level.”
But what is resiliency?
“It’s our ability to cope and bounce back from stress,” said Dan Thiessen, a Mission school counsellor. “It’s about the tools and supports we have. It’s also about reducing the amount of stress kids experience.”
Thiessen and the LAT think the best way to explain the concept – and the remarkable science behind it – is by premiering a new documentary entitled Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, here in Mission.
“It really is an astonishing film,” said Georgina Mitchell, substance prevention and health promotion facilitator with Fraser House.
About an hour long, the film demonstrates how researchers at Stanford and Harvard universities were able to show a link between adverse childhood experiences and chronic health problems, including obesity, anxiety disorders, addiction and serious disease.
Resilience effectively demonstrates how “toxic stress” and trauma are major threats to children’s health, as serious as any physical disease. As the film describes, “the child may not remember, but the body remembers.”
The film will be presented on Wednesday, Jan. 11, beginning at 5 p.m. in the Clarke Theatre. The evening will include dinner, child-minding and panel discussions.
It is free but tickets are limited. To reserve tickets, visit stressandhope.eventbrite.ca.