Talking to mothers about their adverse childhood experiences
Findings from a new health visitors' study in Anglesey
A new ground-breaking local initiative delivered in Anglesey by the Betsi Cadwaladr UHB. has seen health visitors routinely asking new mothers about the Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs they suffered as children.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that affect children while growing up, such as suffering child maltreatment or living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance misuse or mental illness. The routine ACE enquiry aims to better prepare individuals for parenting through providing opportunities to discuss and reflect on what impacted mother's own experiences of childhood.
This is the first time such an approach has been piloted with health visitors in the UK. It represents a key first step towards understanding how to support mothers who have experienced ACEs in achieving positive health, wellbeing for themselves and better outcomes for them as parents. Whilst this is only an initial study, the findings from an independent evaluation by Public Health Wales are very promising.
More than 8 in 10 mothers believed it important for health visitors to have this understanding of their ACEs and over 90% of mothers considered it acceptable to provide such information to a health visitor. For over 40% of mothers with ACEs, enquiry in health visiting was the first time in their lives they had been able to discuss these experiences with a professional.