Schilling, Elizabeth A., Robert H. Aseltine, Jr., and Susan Gore. “Adverse Childhood Experiences and Mental Health in Young Adults: A Longitudinal Survey.” BMC Public Health 7 (March 7, 2007).
IMPORTANT DATA AND TAKEAWAYS
From the Abstract:
"Where racial/ethnic differences existed, the adverse mental health impact of ACEs on Whites was consistently greater than on Blacks and Hispanics." (1)
The current study investigates the prevalence of a variety of lifetime ACEs reported by a sample of racially and economically diverse high school seniors, and estimates the impact of these experiences on three mental health outcomes–depression, drug use, and antisocial behavior–assessed two years later. In addition, this study investigates under-explored gender and racial/ethnic differences in these associations. (2)
Because of the fluidity and malleability of roles during this period (see ), the transition to adulthood offers a potential "turning point" in the lives of disadvantaged youth. For example, previous research has shown that both post-secondary education and supportive romantic relationships positively influence the lifecourse trajectories of at-risk young adults [41-45]. Moreover, these roles are likely synergistic in their influence: One of the benefits of higher education in women is that it delays establishment of committed romantic relationships, resulting in higher quality marriages [43,44] which promote better mental health . Clearly, strategies for preventing serious childhood adversity would be most beneficial: however, the malleability of young adulthood may provide additional opportunities to re-direct lifecourse trajectories in a positive direction and to prevent the adult mental health consequences of ACEs. (8)
Our results indicate that when racial/ethnic differences exist, young Whites consistently
exhibit greater vulnerability to ACEs, particularly for externalizing behaviors. One explanation is that these results may illustrate a "steeling effect"  in which youths in some ethnic groups are better able to successfully cope with stress and adversity and are consequently less prone to mental health difficulties. Research on coping processes may provide support for this explanation, as there is evidence that cognitive coping styles more typical among ethnic subcultures may explain differential racial/ethnic vulnerability to stress . For example, differences in coping styles partially explain greater vulnerability to PTSD among Hispanic compared to Black and White police officers (see ), and greater religiosity, found among Blacks compared to Whites, has been found to be protective . (8)