CAHM forum addresses significance of Adverse Childhood Experiences


Photo by Krystina Andrade

Guest speakers at the CAHM forum at CSUSM on Oct.12.

Adrianna Adame, News Reporter

The Community Alliance for Healthy Minds (CAHM) Forum: From Hopelessness… to Hope and Healing returned to CSUSM for the twelth year to educate individuals on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) scores, while providing a space for people to talk about their experiences and seek support.


Rex and Connie Kennemer founded the CAHM Forum, a San Diego based non-profit organization, as a result of the suicide of their son Todd. The Kennemers created CAHM with the help and support of local mental health organizations to help those who are suffering from mental illness, in the hopes of preventing tragic deaths like Todd’s.


At the forum, there was a resource fair before and during the breaks that provided pamphlets and guides for further resources.


After the opening address by Dr. Nick Yphantides, a short film called Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope was shown. The film shared Todd’s story and how the CAHM forum was founded.


The film addressed the influence of ACEs scores on individuals’ mental health. A person’s ACEs scores are determined by sensitive questions that revolve on the homelife of the person when they were under the age of 18. In the film, those who grew up in a less fortunate neighborhood presented a higher ACE score than the wealthy San Francisco neighborhood. When the children in the film were given more resources, they had a better behavior and did better in school.


“There are many challenges related to health that can be prevented,” said Dr. Nick Yphantides, chief medical officer for San Diego County, moderated the panel following the short film, “Through education, creating healthier environment and lifestyle behavior change, we can proactively prevent bad things from happening later in life.”


Dr. Yphantides lead the discussion with the breakout speakers; Mark S. Komrad is a psychiatrist on faculty of John Hopkins, University of Maryland.  Sharon Hamill is a psychology and child/adolescent development professor and faculty director at CSU Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM. Susan Writer who works at Aurora Behavioral Health Care, based in San Diego.


After the raffles and door prize drawings of the event, comedian Andrew Norelli gave the closing monologue. Norelli has made appearances on various shows such as The Late Night Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live. His monologue talked about his mental health journey in a humorous yet relatable way.


To learn more about CAHM, students can visit .