Mental Illness Awareness Week, the first full week in October, was established to promote discussion of mental health to increase awareness, education and support, while decreasing stigma and people to seek treatment when needed.  As an organization that deals with child trauma, we at NJCA hope to also advocate for mental health awareness and support. 

Child abuse, along with other ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), can increase the risk for mental health difficulties, including depression, anxiety, addition, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. What’s most important to know, however, is those negative effects can be both mitigated and successfully treated. 

A number of factors, sometimes known as PACEs (Protective and Compensatory Factors, have been shown to protect children with trauma from negative outcomes such as mental health disorders. 

There are also a number of treatments that have been shown by research to be successful specifically for treating trauma in children. These methods of treatment are sometimes referred to as “evidence based treatment”. One of our goals at NJCA is to increase to these treatments for child abuse victims throughout the state by providing training opportunities for mental health professionals. 

While preventing child abuse from ever happening is the ultimate goal, we believe it is important to know that there is hope and healing for victims, and that the perception that experiencing abuse is a lifelong sentence to mental illness and other problems is far from a necessary fact. Caring adults can make a difference in the lives of children by helping create resilience as well as a sort of buffer to their traumas – and professionals, and the systems that support them, can help victims find healing and go in to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.