Children’s Mental Health Week an opportunity to reflect on the impact of ACEs on substance use

Over the next week, children, young people and adults throughout the UK are taking steps to be ‘Healthy: Inside and Out’ and looking after their bodies and minds for Children’s Mental Health Week 2019.

The campaign runs from the 4th to the 10th of February and aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health.

This year, Scottish Drugs Forum are encouraging services to be aware of, recognise and address the effects that Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) can have on an individual’s development.

ACEs are stressful events occurring in childhood, that include:

  • domestic violence
  • parental abandonment through separation or divorce
  • a parent with a mental health condition
  • being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
  • being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
  • a member of the household being in prison
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems.

When children are exposed to adverse and stressful experiences, it can have a long-lasting impact on their ability to think, interact with others and on their learning. ACEs have been found to have lifelong impacts on health and behaviour, including increasing susceptibility to health-harming behaviours such as high-risk drinking, smoking and drug use.

By becoming ACE aware and offering timely support, we can work together to prevent ACEs and to help reduce their impact.

Scottish Drugs Forum’s upcoming conference ‘Bridging That Gap’ on the 14th of March 2019 will seek to address how Scotland’s mental health and drug policies can work together to address issues within current service provision for people of all ages with drug problems through a variety of speakers and workshops.

Specifically, John McCormack of Scottish Recovery Network will be discussing up-skilling services to be trauma-informed, trauma-aware and trauma-focussed, and the difference between these. Paul Millwood of Birmingham City University will explore early interventions with young people and the unique approach being adopted in Birmingham which has seen the extension of CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) service up until the age 25.

Click here to find out more and secure your place at ‘Bridging That Gap’

Services in Scotland can also improve their staff knowledge on ACEs and other trauma-informed practices through attending SDF’s ‘Introduction to Trauma’ or ‘Listening and Responding to Children Affected by Parental Substance Use’ training – available dates will be shown on the SDF Workforce Development website, or alternatively if none are in your area, please contact SDF’s Workforce Development Programme Manager Richard Bloodworth at where commissioning may be possible for groups.

Find out more about Children’s Mental Health Week 2019