Plenty of research shows that adverse childhood experiences can lead to depression and other health problems later in life. But researcher Christina Bethell wondered whether positive experiences in childhood could counter that. Her research comes from a personal place.
In the 1970s, in a low-income housing complex in Los Angeles, Bethell had a tough childhood. Sometimes she didn’t have money for lunch. Sometimes, when a free bus came through to take kids to church, she would get on it, just to go somewhere else. “In low-income areas and in California in general, there was a lot of drugs and drinking — it was the norm,” she says.
But there were positive things in her childhood too. Her grandmother would come by every few months and tell her that anything she needed was inside her. She was engaged in school; she played sports, and she stayed late to help the teacher clean up.
Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, Maine