Her sister Rusti found counselling very
beneficial. At the age of 22, just
after the birth of her son, and while
in a verbally and emotionally abusive
relationship with her son’s father, Rusti
sought counselling at the Sexual Assault
Centre of Edmonton (SACE). “SACE
tells you secrets are the most dangerous
things,” she says. Now in her early 50s,
Rusti has no difficulty talking openly
about her experiences. She understands
how the sexual abuse affected her ability to
maintain healthy long-term relationships.
And she understands the anger she
harboured towards her mother — the
person she felt should have protected her.
“There are victims and there are survivors.
I would classify myself as a survivor now,”
she says with a smile.
Healing can and does happen, even in
adulthood. But, by focusing on prevention
and early intervention, people such as
Anderson and the Lehay sisters wouldn’t
have to spend years healing from what
shouldn’t have happened at all. Prevention
and early intervention avoid more health
care costs later.
Prevention and intervention are the
focus of the Collaborative Mental Health
Care (CMHC) team in the Calgary Zone of
Alberta Health Services. The team
connects parents who are struggling
with mental health issues with support
family — grandparents, childcare workers,
pre-school teachers — to help them protect
and support at-risk children.
“The best opportunity we have to make
a difference and promote good mental and
physical health outcomes is
at the time of early brain development —
by intervening when children are young,”
program manager Dianne Cully says.
Childhood and adolescence already
come with their share of ups and downs.
Throw ACEs into the mix, and the downs
can soon outweigh the ups, making
levelness impossible for these children
and undermining their ability to function.
But help is available, prevention and
early intervention programs are making
a difference, giving children a stable base
from which to heal.
neural connections per second.
If children face adverse
childhood experiences (ACEs)
during this time, crucial neural
connections can be interrupted
or shut down, weakening brain
Child at Harvard University says the
more adversity children experience,
especially in the first three years
of life, the more likely they are to
have delays in cognitive, language
or emotional development
All in the Family, posted at
Insight on ACEs •;If;someone;you;know;is;dealing with ACEs, Collaborative Mental
Health Care program manager
Dianne Cully recommends
professional or calling Health
— Yasmin Jaswal