I met Dr. Burke Harris at FCHIP’s 3rd Annual State of Our Health Breakfast. I felt honored to meet the infamous TedX Speaker and champion of the landmark study on Adverse Childhood Experiences. Twenty-five years earlier the research by Vincent Felitti, MD and Robert Anda, MD revealed that early trauma has a profound impact on mental and physical health across the lifespan.
Dr. Burke-Harris is not only a pediatrician, but the very first Surgeon General of California. She’s built strong bridges between social, emotional, and physical health. Finally, the spotlight is focused right where it needs to be as we work to address the impact emotional and social experiences have on physical health.
Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris took the bold step this past month and stepped down from her position as California Surgeon General. She bravely admitted that her own self-care and the care of her children and family need to be first and foremost. Good for her for recognizing that healing and treating trauma requires ongoing and intensive self-care. I have so much respect for her putting her values into action and stepping down for all the right reasons.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is not the last we will see of Dr. Burke-Harris. She dreams big and takes bold actions!
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris started the much needed momentum to lead the efforts to raise awareness about Adverse Childhood Experiences Screening (ACEs). The notion that pervasive toxic stress caused by trauma has an effect on people is not new. However, for the first time, we are investing heavily in identifying childhood trauma and derailing it.
Dr. Burke-Harris’s efforts gained national attention. California has invested 90 million dollars to fund the ACEs Aware Initiative, and there’s more funding on the way! There is now a national conversation happening about childhood trauma, and continually aims to help others understand the importance of healing from adverse childhood experiences through prevention and early intervention.
I admire Dr. Burke Harris because she is not afraid to confront the reality that we have been doing medicine and mental health wrong. It’s time to steer the ship in a new direction. The root cause of mental and physical illness in many cases is unrecognized and untreated trauma. Stress overload causes biochemical changes in the body that become our social determinants of health.
Thank you Dr. Burke Harris! You are a leader in our national movement to create trauma-sensitive and trauma-informed education programs that will make a difference in the lives of generations to come.