People from across sectors filled the conference room on Wilmington University’s Dover Campus, Wednesday, December 7, to hear the findings of the Delaware Household Health Survey Data, which included ACEs data from across Delaware. Dr. Leslie Brower, who chairs Trauma Matters Delaware, opened the briefing by welcoming attendees and thanking partner organizations and funders.
DPHI Executive Director Francine Axler and Laurel Jones, DPHI project assistant, presented the findings which included the results on Sussex County, Kent County, Greater Wilmington Area, and remainder of New Castle County. The 2,609 people who participated in the survey were scored on 10 different items across three categories. These categories and items included abuse (sexual, physical, emotional), neglect (physical and emotional), and household challenges (incarcerated family members, separation/divorce, mental health, substance abuse, mother treated violently).
Jones highlighted the fact that of the over 123,000 adults who had been diagnosed with a mental illness, over 35% had not sought treatment.
Presenters shared that Delaware ACE correlations mirror those of other ACE studies, e.g. direct and graded relationship between the number of exposures to ACEs and negative life consequences, in this case smoking, obesity, mental health and self harm, witnessing violence and community distrust.
Following up the presentation by DPHI with a closer look at the ACE items was Dr. Khaleel Hussaini from the Division of Public Health who provided a disaggregation of data on the correlation between overall health and ACE occurrences as well as their cumulative effect. It should also be noted that the DPH study included 12 items compared to the Kaiser’s original 10: bullying and racial/ethnic discrimination.
Presenters were followed by a panel discussion coupled with questions from the audience. Panelists included Tynetta Brown, United Way; Dr. Brian Rahmer; Christiana Care; Dr. Karyl Rattay, Delaware Division of Public Health; Pam Willis, community advocate and certified peer support specialist; and Lydia DeLeon, mental health counselor and manager of Westside Family Healthcare. Among the not-so-unfamiliar themes of fragmentation and silos, came suggested solutions from Brown and Rahmer to find ways to collaborate on opportunities and the alignment of funding streams with a model that has proven successful in other areas -- an anchor institution dashboard.
Long-time health advocate and attendee Peggy Geisler, executive director, Sussex County Health Coalition, looks forward to using the ACEs data to support her work of awareness in areas such as family support and engagement, mental health screening, informing prevention efforts among her network of physicians and community members, and advising her work with youth in schools. Briefing attendee Judy Nelson, senior medical work consultant with Delaware Division of Public in Health, said was encouraged by the interests shown among panelists to collaborate with different agencies. Nelson provides home visits with adults and children and said she was able to see how her work could benefit by including life skills training around health education, a solution offered by panelist, Dr. Karyl Rattay, director for the Delaware Division of Public Health.
The bright light of the day came from panelist Pam Willis, a community advocate, who credited Brower, Trauma Matters Delaware, and the awareness of ACEs information for “reversing her emotional age”. Through the support of Trauma Matters Delaware, she realized that the serious life problems she experienced were not a result of personal failure but an understandable outcome of having an ACE score of 10.
Brower closed the event with a call to action and challenge to participants to become involved in making Delaware a trauma-informed state.