Activating Change to the Landscape of Trauma-Informed Care

For the California Surgeon General’s ACEs Aware Initiative


The ACEs Aware Initiative, led by California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, seeks to reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress in half in a single generation. Part of the work of this initiative is to train medical providers to screen their patients for ACEs so they can lead with trauma informed care. The challenge, however, is enticing medical providers to actually take the training using social media. 

California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris entered office in 2019 with high aspirations to change the healthcare landscape as we know it today. The field of research surrounding adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) continues to grow, showing the significant, lasting implications ACEs and toxic stress can have on a patient’s health. With the goal to cut ACEs and toxic stress and in half in the next generation, Dr. Harris needed a way to rally providers to take the ACEs training and become certified in trauma informed care.

That’s where the ACEs Aware campaign comes in. The campaign uses eye-catching graphics to provoke conversation about ACEs and show providers how trauma informed care can make positive change for communities to live happier, healthier lives. The campaign connects directly with providers to incentivize them to incorporate trauma informed care, moving ACEs and ACEs screening from a stigmatized mental health issue to a widely understood public health initiative.


Through in-depth conversations with the client, we discovered physicians are inundated with messages from pharmaceutical companies, technology companies, and Continuing Medical Education courses, which meant it was imperative for the visual representations of the ACEs Aware content to create some noise within the arena. The ACEs Aware social media feeds needed to stand out among the mundane designs of other government agencies or healthcare organizations.

We knew that if we were going to engage medical providers on social media the way we needed to, we had to present this content from a place of resilience and hope. The selected concept turns the ACEs Aware social media feeds into a work of abstract art, echoing the fact that although ACEs can feel like an abstract concept, beauty and healing can be found nonetheless.

The use of abstract shapes and a continuous use feed creates a calming, modern aesthetic that gives followers a reason to stop scrolling and digest the messaging being presented.

Followers across platforms

twitter impressions

facebook engagements


In the six weeks since the launch of the new social identity:

  • Followers across platforms: + 25% 
  • Twitter impressions: + 15% 
  • Facebook engagements: + 78% 
  • 315,000 screenings between January – September 2020

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