Countywide experts want to shed light on the effects of trauma on mental health.
“Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” is a documentary that will be screened as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. The film will play in The Clover Theater on Tuesday, May 14 at 5:45 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.
The film focuses on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and ways people can help improve mental health for children before carrying issues into adulthood.
With support from the Cloverdale Senior Multipurpose Center, Health Action Cloverdale is hosting the free event with St. Joseph Health and Alexander Valley Film Society.
After the film, a panel discussion of Sonoma County mental health experts will weigh in on the issues with a Q-and-A from 6:50 to 7:30 p.m.
The panel consists of Brian Farragher, CEO of Hanna Boys Center, who holds a masters degree in social work and an MBA; Licensed Clinical Social Worker Maria Zavala and Becky Ennis, who holds a masters in nonprofit administration.
Ennis, executive director of the senior center who facilitates Health Action Cloverdale, discussed the movement behind the film with Montserrat Archila.
Archila is the school-based behavioral health programs lead in the Community Benefit Department at St. Joseph Health. She said their hope with the film is to inform people about what ACEs are.
“ACEs can affect physical and mental health. We as a community can learn techniques on being resilient and supportive of one another,” Archila said.
A Kaiser Permanente study from 1995-97 found that people who experienced high levels of trauma or ACEs resulted in a greater tendency to health problems.
The study pointed to issues including heart and coronary diseases, asthma, diabetes, along with mental health problems, Archila said.
Questions can be asked during physical health appointments that may help with treating a child’s mental health.
“Maybe they’re coming in for asthma, they don’t want to just treat asthma, they want to treat other things that are happening within the home,” Archila said.
Ennis said the film’s goal is to increase dialogue on mental health and make it a normal topic to discuss. Ennis believes it should be the same as discussing physical health.
According to Ennis, the film demonstrates that when people are talking about mental health as adults, they’re also addressing issues from childhood.
“We’re talking about children’s mental health when they are children, but also the effects into the future as adults and what we carry forward,” Ennis said.
Ennis said she thinks there are many experiences from childhood that are not considered traumatic in a clinical sense. However, from internalizing and self-process, these issues can be brought forward into adulthood.
Another goal of “Resilience” is to have a community experience, Ennis said, and allow people to meet professionals and recognize issues presented in the film.
“That might inspire them to seek out other resources, either in Cloverdale or within the community at large,” Ennis said.
Archila said the movie helps identify if there is something else going on, for example, to the longevity of a cold, that perhaps people aren’t realizing.
“It’s looking at health from a whole list of perspectives. Seeing the things that contribute when we’re not feeling well, and to have self-awareness,” Archila said.
Ennis described what she thinks “the science of hope” means. She said the speakers in the film are taking biology and using evidenced-based, life transformational training to help people with guilt.
During the panel, Ennis will bring up The Center For Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., which is developing a program for healing population-wide stress and trauma.
Ennis is planning to begin offering a mind-body program in Cloverdale, and said starting with things like links to stress and heart rate, can help people gain control and build tools.
“I don’t need to be attached to feelings of stress, anxiety or fear without having some skills. The science of hope is to develop self-care skills,” Ennis said.
On building resilience, Archila shared a line in the film from Dr. Jack Shonkoff.
“We need to put to bed forever the sense that children born under disadvantaged circumstances are doomed to poor life outcomes,” Archila said quoting Shonkoff.
Archila shared that people are finding, no matter what happened before, there’s always an opportunity to grow and become resilient.
“If we can have a shared awareness about trauma, ACEs, speak openly but have this toolbox, there is always hope on the other end of that,” Archila said.
“Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” is a free, limited seating event. Go to eventbrite.com or call 707-525-5300 ext. 4053 to RSVP by Friday, May 10. The Clover Theater is located on 121 E. First St. in Cloverdale.