Trauma in the United States and Around the World

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Presented by Alaptagin Khan, MBBS, FRSPH, McLean Hospital.

Regardless of where we live or which language we speak, we are exposed to potentially traumatic experiences every day. Khan explains how adverse childhood experiences impact physical and mental health on a national and global scale.

Watch now to learn more about:

  • The relationship between trauma and health outcomes
  • Global rates of trauma and violence
  • Special concerns for refugee populations
  • Why addressing trauma must become a public health priority

“Childhood trauma is a critical missing factor in the context of public health,” emphasizes Khan.

Statistics show that from 1990 to 2020 in the United States, five children per day have died of abuse and neglect. Survivors of childhood trauma have a greater risk of physical as well as mental health conditions.

A person with a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) is 50% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in later life compared to someone without ACE and has 49% higher odds of being diagnosed with cancer.

According to one study, people with six or more adverse childhood experiences have nearly a 20-year reduction in life span.

Continuing education credits are available. Sign up now!

The relationship between childhood trauma and mental health challenges is especially poignant. Khan shares, “If you could remove childhood trauma from society, you could get rid of 54% of depression, 65% of alcoholism, 67% of suicide attempts.”

In this talk, Khan states that experiences of children globally are augmented when compared to U.S. statistics.

For example, half of the world’s children experience violence. Three in four young children regularly undergo physical punishment and psychological violence at the hands of parents and caregivers.

“Given these numbers, it is unsurprising that mental disorders are the leading cause of disability among children and adolescents globally,” Khan said. He added that child maltreatment is a critical missing factor in the context of global public health.

View the Slides

Khan also discusses the mental health impacts of trauma on special populations, such as refugees.

Refugees experience multiple traumas, including post-migration trauma—such as poverty, insecure housing, unemployment, stressful legal issues, and isolation. Because of stigma, refugees are less likely than the general population to seek help for psychiatric issues.

One out of three refugees and asylum seekers experiences depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Almost half of all forcibly displaced people are children.

Khan is optimistic that the World Health Organization’s INSPIRE program for ending violence against children will have an impact by its stated goal of 2030.

“Preventing child abuse before it starts is possible, but it involves a multisectoral approach,” he shares.


You may find this information useful:

Alaptagin Khan, MBBS, FRSPH, is a research associate at McLean’s Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program.