“Teenagers and Depression: Addressing the Young Mental Health Crisis”

On the back of the current unprecedented mental health crisis among teenagers and younger people in the United States, Hope for Depression Research Foundation had its inaugural Next Generation awareness-building symposium on October 6, 2022, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Centered around the topic “Teenagers and Depression: Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis,” the symposium featured leading experts in psychiatry, brain research and social work. The panel also included two brain scientists from the HDRF Depression Task Force.

The diverse crowd, consisting of around 150 guests, included students from both public and private schools, parents, community members, mental health therapists, guidance counselors, teachers and more.  There was also attendance from HFDR’s Co-Chair Scott Snyder, as well as the Junior Committee who initiated the event including members Kameron Ramirez, Hollis Pica, Joe Hernandez and Stacey Leuliette.

“I was so inspired to see the interest and engagement around this very important topic,” said HDRF Executive Director Louisa Benton who moderated the talk. “Not only from our audience, but from the younger generation of students that were here, who shared personal experiences and posed inquisitive questions to build mental health awareness in the community.”

Per recent statistics, more than one in three high school students has experienced sadness or hopelessness – a 40% increase since 2009 – with suicide being the second leading cause of death for teens aged 15 to 19. More than half of parents and caregivers have expressed concern over their children’s mental well-being. The talk addressed this, and explored vital topics including how to identify depression in teenagers, real-life experiences with mental health, how social media contributes to the rise of depression among our youth, and what to do if you think someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety.

“We hope that through more conversations like this, we can continue to educate schools and students to help our adolescents in need and remove the stigma that surrounds depression and other mood related disorders,” said Benton.

Louisa Benton, Executive Director for HDRF, moderated the discussion amongst the following panelists:

  • Erinn F. Beck, MS, LMHC: Beck is an adolescent psychotherapist with Restoring Hope of the Palm Beaches
  • Wei-li Chang, MD, PhD: Dr. Chang is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University
  • Christoph Anacker, PhD: Dr. Anacker is Assistant Professor of Neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York
  • Anthony Trucks: Trucks is a former NFL Athlete and founder of Identify Shift coaching
  • Imad Mawass and Julissa Gonzalez: Student Ambassadors from Active Minds Chapter at Palm Beach Atlantic University

The discussion covered topics such as how to identify depression in teenagers, real life experiences with mental health, how social media contributes to the rise of depression amongst our youth, what to do if you think someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety, and more. Following the conversation, guests and students were given the opportunity to ask questions to the panelists.

Thank you so much to our sponsors! Platinum Sponsor Findlay Galleries, as well as by Orange Theory, Garden of Life, Spiritune, DryBar, and Restoring Hope of the Palm Beaches.