Parenting Matters Conference Keynote Speaker

Saturday, March 23, 2019

8 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.
Barrington High School
220 Lincoln Ave, Barrington, RI 02806
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Jess P. Shatkin, MD, MPH
Author, Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe

About Dr. Shatkin

Jess P. Shatkin, MD, MPH, leads the educational efforts of the NYU Child Study Center, where he is vice chair for education and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and pediatrics at the NYU School of Medicine. In addition to directing one of the largest training programs in the country in child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center, Dr. Shatkin is the founder and director of the nation’s largest undergraduate child development program, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS) at NYU.  

Improving the Mental Fitness and Wellness of Children

Over the past decade, we have observed rapidly rising rates of mental illness among children and adolescents. The numbers are sobering. Nearly 50% of teens 13 – 18 years-of-age meet DSM criteria for at least one disorder, 27.6% for a “severe disorder.” Adverse childhood experiences affect over 50% of children and predispose these individuals to not only academic and behavioral problems throughout their youth, but also future physical disability, such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, as adults. By 14-years-of-age, accidents, suicide, and homicide assert themselves as the leading causes of death among our youth, accounting for over 85% of the mortality among teens and young adults, and holding fast to that ranking until the age of 35. Most addictive behavior starts in adolescence, accounting for the three greatest causes of preventable death – smoking, obesity, and alcohol abuse – which take the lives of approximately one million adults in the U.S. annually. And if there were ever a statistic to be held on the tip of every psychiatrist’s tongue, it would be that 50% of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

The obstacles to delivering adequate mental healthcare to children, adolescents, and their families are numerous and begin with a lack of trained professionals. Yet even when care is available, inequity is commonplace – white children receive treatment much more often than black and Latino children, and the vast majority of the mental healthcare that our children receive is not evidence-based. Given that we will never be able to treat adequately and equitably all of the mentally ill children and adolescents with our current mental health workforce and treatment delivery system, we must employ a public health approach to mental illness.

About the Keynote Presentation

This presentation will first describe the mental health problems that our children and adolescents currently face; we will then discuss why the field of mental health has not historically utilized a public health promotion and illness prevention approach; and finally, we will discuss which strategies are known to prevent and moderate mental illness.

Strategies to be addressed include parenting, supervision, managing access to screens, enhancing healthy habits, teaching cognitive behavior therapy skills, sex education, substance abuse prevention, and school based mental health clinics.

We will also explore the role of other strategies with emerging evidence of utility, such as enhancing community service, apprenticeships, bullying prevention, reducing the quantity of homework, evidence-based mentorship programs, and media literacy. 

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