U to host conversation on adverse childhood experiences among MN students

Students walking

The impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)— childhood experiences of abuse, neglect and family dysfunction—on the health and wellbeing of college students nationwide is relatively unknown. And yet, approximately two-thirds of University of Minnesota students experience at least one adverse childhood experience before entering college.

On Friday, Dec. 2, the U of M will host a one-day conference that brings together college administrators, educators, students, public health professionals and researchers to discuss the intersection of ACEs and student mental health, the effect on success as a student and as a graduate and the importance of resiliency. The conference, titled “ACEs and Mental Health: Broadening the Conversation” is held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Coffman Memorial Union Theater.

The conference will promote deeper understanding of ACEs and mental health that can lead to discussion of interventions for colleges and universities, including how to foster resilience to reduce or moderate the impact of ACEs and identifying effective interventions to prevent dropping out of college.

Speakers include Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger; Patricia Frazer, PhD, Associate Chair, UMN Psychology Department; Canan Karatekin, PhD, Associate Professor, UMN Institute of Child Development; Ann Masten, PhD, Irving D. Harris Professor of Child Development, UMN Institute of Child Development; and Kathleen Thomas, PhD, Professor, UMN Institute of Child Development

Conference schedule and presenters available here.


A 2015 survey of 17 Minnesota post-secondary schools found two-thirds (70 percent) of college students reported at least one adverse childhood experience. Sixteen percent reported two and 11 percent reported three. Of those experiencing ACEs, the most common reported by students are emotional abuse (43 percent), mental illness in the household (31 percent), separation or divorce of a parent (26 percent), living with a problem drinker (23 percent) and physical abuse (16 percent).

The conference is organized and sponsored by Boynton Health, which serves the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus through medical services and a public health approach to campus well-being. The 2015 College Student Health Survey is available here.  

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