A Message from the Acting Surgeon General of California

I’m honored, humbled, and excited to take the reins as the Acting Surgeon General of California at this crucial juncture.

Over the last three years, as our Office’s inaugural Chief Health Officer, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside Dr. Nadine Burke Harris—a true visionary and my friend—to co-construct our strategic vision and priorities. Leveraging my expertise in early adversity and resilience, mental health, and equity, I also established and led our research and clinical implementation portfolios.

Chief among our achievements was the launch of the ACEs Aware Initiative, a first-in-the-nation clinical effort focused on assessing for and treating risk of toxic stress associated with ACEs to truly transform health. In less than two years, the Initiative trained more than 20,000 providers and screened more than half a million patients. I also served as Editor-in-Chief and lead author of the landmark cross-sector report, Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health, among other key publications and advisories.

I’m so proud of our progress so far and of our phenomenal team. Our work has enabled transformative strides in health, resilience, and equity across the state during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Our team is—individually and collectively—deeply committed to the vision of cutting the burden of California’s ACEs and toxic stress in half in a generation. We will harness the momentum we’ve created so far and scale it to even greater heights.

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s ahead:

  • ACEs Aware: CA-OSG, in partnership with the Department of Health Care Services, and the newly formed UCLA/UCSF ACEs Aware Family Resilience Network (UCAAN), are funded to implement screening and clinical response for toxic stress related to ACEs for three more years, furthering the evidence base, best clinical practices, and equity.
  • Public Awareness Campaign: As part of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI), we will launch a $24.1 million public awareness campaign to help ensure that alongside clinicians, the public knows how to recognize and interrupt the effects of ACEs and toxic stress.
  • Training for Educators: Also under the CYBHI, CA-OSG will work with partners from the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS), the California Department of Education, the California Department of Social Services, and the State Board of Education, to develop a trauma-informed training for educators to better support children who may be experiencing toxic stress.
  • Health Equity: CA-OSG will support the Co-Chairs of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion subcommittee and the incoming CalHHS Chief Equity Officer to integrate a trauma-informed approach into the Agency-Wide Equity Framework.

As a mother, an immigrant, a patient, a gender equity researcher, a pediatrician, and a public health practitioner, I look forward to ensuring that this Office lives up to its greatest potential on behalf of all Californians.

Our future is bright,
Dr. Devika Bhushan