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Formal and Informal Support: Moderating Adverse Childhood Experiences and Mental Health

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been linked with diminished mental health in adults. However, social-emotional support is known to moderate relations between ACEs and mental health symptoms. Less is known about how different types of support (e.g. formal and professional vs. informal) may protect against mental health symptoms in those with high ACEs. Distinguishing between informal and formal supports may provide a new understanding of effective intervention for mental health symptoms in those with adversity histories. Data were collected as part of a larger study from mothers (N=172) who were predominately Latina (73.8%) and ages 18-49 (M=31.14) on ACEs, depression, anxiety, and social supports. A two-way ANOVA demonstrate that participants with high ACEs who used informal support had lower mental health symptoms than those who used formal support. This finding suggests that informal support may play a significant role in moderating the relationship between ACEs and mental health.

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