NASHVILLE, Tenn. As recently as the 1990s, researchers discovered a dangerous biological syndrome caused by abuse and neglect during childhood. Toxic stress triggered hormones in many children that wrought havoc on their brains and bodies, putting them at greater risk for disease, homelessness, prison and even death.”
“The child may not remember, but the body remembers,” one clinician said ominously.
“Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” is an award-winning documentary that examines the broad impacts on society and chronicles the beginning of a movement determined to fight back.
On March 5, 2019, faith leaders from throughout Nashville and Davidson County gathered at the Metro Health Department for a special screening and World Café discussion to address toxic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The event was a follow-up to the 2018 Faith & Health Summit, and its primary goal was continuing efforts to combat the health crisis.
“We love to show this documentary,” Andrea Shook of Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee commented. “All of the work we do is tied into the factors shown here.”
For more than 35 years, Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee has supported parents and communities in building positive, nurturing homes for children. The organization’s ultimate vision is to see all children thriving in safe and stable environments.
Bishop Minnie Mitchell of New Life Through Christ Ministries, an interdenominational church in Nashville, added, “I feel this film was most beneficial. A lot of us do not realize that we have been affected by childhood traumas.”
Attendees offered numerous suggestions and possibilities to combat ACEs, like counseling and connecting people to other with similar experiences.
“We should make safe spaces where men can feel vulnerable,” one group offered.
“We should target social media,” another said. “We should let people know mental illness is equally as important as physical illness.”
State Rep. Harold Love, Jr. also attended the event and, like others who spoke, stressed the need to counteract the unsettling trend in America’s youth. “This work,” he said, “is so important.
‘I could put a name and a face to it’
Dr. Cynthia Jackson, Chairperson of the Nashville Health Disparities Coalition (NHDC), said the documentary almost moved her to tears. It reflected much of what she sees on a day-to-day basis with the NHDC and as a Psychologist for Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC).
“Everything they were saying, I could put a name and a face to it,” she said. “It’s so important that we support this work.”
Ingrid Jackson of All Children Excel (ACE) Nashville agreed, encouraging everyone present to look into her organization as part of the effort. Its mission, she noted, was to prevent and mitigate the lifelong impact of childhood adversity.
Faith-Based Health Equity Awards
The screening concluded with an announcement about the 2019 call for proposals for the Faith-Based Health Equity Awards. Local, faith-based organizations may apply for a $1000 award to further their ongoing work in health equity. Applications are due Friday, April 12.
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.