CA surgeon general’s report provides cross-sector roadmap to address health and societal impacts of adversity

December 11, 2020

The Office of the California Surgeon General has released the first California Surgeon General’s Report, “Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General's Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health.” The report serves as a blueprint for how communities, states, and nations can recognize and effectively address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress as a root cause to some of the most harmful, persistent, and expensive societal and health challenges facing our world today.

The report provides clear and equitable response solutions, models and best practices to be replicated or tailored to serve community needs. It brings together global experts across sectors, specialties, regions, and disciplines to drive science-based approaches to primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies for ACEs and toxic stress.

“ACEs and toxic stress are a public health crisis in California and throughout our nation. But ACEs are not destiny,” said California Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. “I am thrilled to share this report as a roadmap for prevention, early detection and cross-sector, coordinated interventions to address ACEs and toxic stress in a systematic way. None of these strategies are sufficient alone and each extends the reach of others.”

The report offers a detailed collection of:

  • The science, scope and impact of ACEs and toxic stress
  • Recognizing toxic stress as health condition amenable to treatment
  • The public health approach for cutting ACEs and toxic stress in half within a generation
  • California’s response to ACEs and toxic stress
  • What lies ahead for the ACEs movement

The report further specifies cross-sector strategies for addressing ACEs and toxic stress, at the state level, prioritizing prevention, equity in outcomes, and enhanced coordination across: health care; public health; social services; early childhood; education; and justice.

Throughout the report, the impact of COVID-19 is highlighted, recognizing the pandemic’s association with significant increases in ACEs, toxic stress risk and rates of ACE-Associated Health Conditions.

“With the recent and historic challenges, everyone is experiencing increased stress. However, we recognize that those who have experienced ACEs are at greater risk for developing adverse health outcomes as a result of this stress,” said California Health Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly, M.D. “There has never been a more important time for California to have a trauma-informed workforce and evidence-based strategies to address toxic stress than in this moment.”

California is a leader in addressing ACEs and toxic stress to improve outcomes for the state’s residents. The state is taking aggressive steps through the first-in the nation ACEs Aware initiative, to establish routine ACE screening in primary care and develop a network of care, including cross-sector coordination supports aligned with primary care.

The full report, executive summary, 12 topical and sector specific briefs, social media toolkit and more can be found at https://osg.ca.gov/sg-report.

This article was reprinted with permission and written by Cate Powers.


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