Local health experts look for new ways to help those with childhood trauma

Local health experts look for new...

Local health experts look for new ways to help those with childhood trauma

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) -- - The impact of childhood trauma is not new information. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study, conducted in the late 1990's, found childhood trauma has a strong connection to serious physical and mental illness. 

Local health experts said they are becoming more educated on the impacts bad experiences have on a child's life. 

"How can we prevent childhood adversity?" asked Lacie Ketelhut, trauma informed care coordinator for Gundersen Health System. "We need to have effective treatment, treatment that supports healing by those who have been impacted by trauma." 

A study spanning three years in the late 1990's found two out of three people have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience. 

The study said a child who goes through two traumatic events doubles their risk of cancer or heart disease. Five events make them eight times more likely to abuse alcohol, and six or more can shorten their life by 20 years. 

"It's been slowly gaining some momentum and here in this community and we have been looking to take action for the past few years," Ketelhut said. 

La Crosse County Better Together evaluator Diana DiazGranados said it is new understanding that is creating solutions to an continuing problem. 

"It's about being able to increase people's resiliency on how to cope with those adverse experiences that will improve and reduce the risks of depression and anxiety," DiazGranados said

DiazGranados said projects like Better Together aim to help young adults who have been through life changing trauma and understand what they went through. 

"This is a call to action to improve the lives of children, but also for adults who have had experiences as children," DiazGranados said. 

La Crosse School District director of community services Curt Teff said the issues won't get better if organizations are alone in this process. 

"Schools themselves can't solve it, the county support survives can't solve it," Teff said. "However, as a community, if we come together, which is what we are doing with this project, we think we have a good chance of being able to make some positive change for youth and families in our community." 

Ketelhut said everyone in the community has a role and it's up to people to educate themselves on this issue. 

"This is a conversation, and we all need to understand and be apart of that conversation," Ketelhut said. "We all have something different to contribute."

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