How important is resilience?

The prevalence of mental health disorders and trauma and the growth-promoting role of resilience

Adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, such as those described in this course, are common (Finkelhour, Turner, Shattuck & Hamby, 2015; Merrick et al., 2017). Recent research, reported that almost 60% of adults have experience of at least one ACE, whilst 15% report 4 or more ACEs (Metzler et al., 2017). Exposure to these kinds of traumas can undermine school achievement and wellbeing in educational contexts (Barry, Lyman & Grofer Klinger, 2002; Porche, Costello & Rosen-Reynoso, 2016).


Nevertheless, research studies have also shown that children who experience trauma or adversity can also develop normally and demonstrate resiliency in the face of stressors (Rutter, 2012). Children’s individual ability to cope with stress and regulate their emotions, as well as their access resources, supports and buffering relationships are critical to mitigating the risks of ACEs (Ungar, 2013). Indeed, resilience is increasingly important: recent data has shown that the prevalence of social, emotional and behavioural disorders is on the rise (WHO, 2011). Mental health and behavioural disorders are the number one form of disability in childhood and disruptive, aggressive, oppositional and/or withdrawn behaviours in the classroom is a widely recognised challenge (Aasheim et al., 2018). Studies have shown that approximately 25% of young school-going children can demonstrate socioemotional and behavioural difficulties which can have significant consequences for educational attainment, and longer-term adult outcomes (Hyland et al., 2014).

However, children who are resilience are more likely to experience positive mental health and wellbeing and are more resistant to the negative effects of victimisation and adversity (Bellis et al., 2018). Interventions and actions taken by educators can play an important role in helping children recovering from adversity and helping them to build skills and strengths which promote positive growth and development.