On 26 March SSCB was kind enough to fund CPD in Perth for yours truly. I chose a day-long seminar entitled “Sometimes It Hurts”. The course was delivered by both clinicians and therapists from NHS England who work on CAMS (Collaborative Assessment & Management of Suicidality) wards for teenagers in the Midlands. In short, it is a first-aid course to equip youth workers to spot early warning signs in the mental health of adolescents, particularly those with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).
ACES include a wide range of traumas; just one example is when a child is a victim of sustained domestic violence. The statistics for those young people who experience multiple sustained ACES are heart-breaking. Let me share a few.
A child who experiences multiple ACES can grow into adulthood with a significantly higher health risk and shorter lifespan. These children will be 191% more likely to contract an STD, 105% more likely to have heart disease, 67% more likely to become an alcoholic, and 50% more likely to contract cancer. It gets worse. A child who experiences multiple ACES is a staggering 3,900% more likely to use IV drugs, 207% more likely to have diagnosed mental health disorders, and 114% more likely to engage in sexually promiscuity – which, by definition, is over 50 partners. Women, in particular, are 800% more likely to be a victim of sexual assault and 380% more likely to experience sustained domestic abuse.
There is a physical science to why these numbers are so monstrously high. A child exposed to fight-or-flight levels of stress while their brain is developing in what is supposed to be a safe environment alter the neural pathways in the brain that prevent the ability to measure threats to health and safety.
Imagine these pathways being like a well-worn path trodden on the forest floor. Plants that should be growing tall and bright are instead continually trampled underfoot into the ground. Likewise, continuous trauma can weaken neural pathways in the processing part of the brain; healthy active growth is natural, but it cannot be sustained by constant trampling.
Without outside intervention, these pathways can remain damaged into adulthood. The cycle often persists, and adults who experienced trauma as a child repeat the same trauma on others, exhibit the same behaviours, and make the same damaging decisions.
There is, however, a statement of hope: “Just as a traumatic experience can alter a life in an instant, so too can a therapeutic encounter.” This quote isn’t from a Christian but rather neuroscientist Bruce Perry, however the professionals leading the seminar were Christians who reported seeing hope brought to the hopeless by an encounter with Jesus.
After all, Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).” In the most troubling week of his own mortal life, Jesus reassures us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).”
I am not a mental health professional, but I can look for warning signs, administer first aid, and call for help. Like the Good Samaritan, I can be a good neighbour, friend, and minister to those who are low and poorly.
As Jesus’ ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5) we have the privilege of bringing with us not only good deeds and kind words but the healing news of the Gospel. We can share with people that they are created, cherished, and loved beyond their wildest dreams. Maybe that’s why it is said “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation (Isaiah 52:7).”
The well-trodden path through the woods can grow back again just like it was designed, and the forest can erase the wounds of hurt to be completely whole again. This is the power of the good news of Jesus Christ – that he is redeeming all of creation, healing the land and bringing forth new life.
In humble obedience, we simply sow those seeds wherever we go.

[from Kenny McCartney – Youth Pastor]

Recent Posts