The Summit on Mental Health: recorded sessions

All times are Eastern.

Monday, Nov. 8

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Social connection among the aging

During the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation for some seniors has been described as being “worse than death.” Moderated by AHCJ aging core topic leader Liz Seegert, the panel, featuring Deborah Marin, M.D., Namkee Choi, Ph.D., Kasley Killam, M.P.H., and Paulo Narcisco, explored social isolation among the elderly. Attendees learned about some of the harmful effects of social isolation and key risk factors including, personal loss, income loss, and living in unsafe communities. And panelists discussed the importance of taking a holistic approach to preventing and reducing disconnection. They also presented some of the interactive tools available to help combat this issue including, an app that allows older adults to connect with families via virtual reality; and AARP’s Connect2Affect, a webpage providing useful resources to those who are isolated and lonely.


1:30-3 p.m.
Kids’ mental health in the pandemic

In this panel moderated by STAT Editor Megan Thielking, mental health experts Shilpa Taufique, Tegan Henke, and Roshni L. Koli, M.D., discussed the mental health crisis in children and how to make meaningful change. Taufique emphasized how much the mental health system has been overwhelmed during the pandemic. People have been dealing with their own fears while trying to provide care to children suffering from mental health problems. Attendees also learned that substance use recently increased among children and adolescents, exacerbating existing problems. Panelists emphasized that audio-only mental health services are vital in rural communities that lack access to broadband.


3:30-5 p.m.
Reporting responsibly on trends in suicide

Moderated by AHCJ’s mental health core topic leader Katti Gray, this session featuring Amelia Noor-Oshiro, M.P.H., Ph.D, John Ackerman, Ph.D., Marianne Goodman, M.D., and Sonyia Richardson, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., spotlighted trends, challenges, and innovation in suicide prevention and tips for providing responsible coverage. Attendees learned about the importance of depicting suicide responsibly as unsafe reporting can lead to suicide contagion. Panelists also explained the crucial role of The Governor’s Challenge Project in New York in developing a lethal means and firearm safety program for family members. Finally, participants gained insight into the trends in suicide among Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic populations.


5:15-6:30 p.m.
Violence and children’s health: an ongoing U.S. crisis

Moderated by AHCJ’s Director of Education and Content Katherine Reed, the focus of this panel featuring Aditi Vasan, M.D., M.S.H.P., Polina Krass, M.D., and Rosalind Wright, M.D., was the impact of exposure to violence on children, especially Black and Hispanic children who are significantly more exposed than their white peers. Panelists shed light on a study that looked at children’s visits to emergency departments in the two weeks after a shooting in or near their neighborhoods. The study found more visits for anxiety, self-harm, depression and other complaints. Panelists also talked about the importance of protecting young children from the “social pollutant” of stress, which can affect even babies in their mother’s womb, and the significance of implementing gun policies such as comprehensive background checks and providing gun owners with gun locks to help reduce the risk.


Tuesday, Nov. 9

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Navigating collaborative care

Moderated by AHCJ health reform topic leader Joe Burns, this panel featuring Karinn A. Glover, M.D., M.P.H., Travis Mickelson, M.D., and Kristin Kroeger, chief of policy, programs and partnerships, American Psychiatric Association, explored collaborative care including who pays for it and how patient outcomes are measured. Panelists talked about how COVID-19 has exacerbated the mental health needs of Americans and how and why more primary care offices should adopt collaborative care to address this problem. Attendees learned that the collaborative care model is one effective and efficient way to provide patients with psychiatric services within the primary care setting. Speakers explained that team-based care not only improves physician engagement but also helps patients get quicker and more affordable access to mental health care, thus potentially reducing emergency room visits. Participants also gained insight into the key role psychiatrists play in the collaborative care model.


1:30-3 p.m.
Supporting maternal mental health: research and lived experience

In this panel moderated by AHCJ’s medical studies core topic Leader Tara Haelle, panelists Leana Wen, M.D., Veerle Bergink, M.D., Ph.D., Iola Kostrzewski, a doula, and Anna King, L.C.S.W., talked about the many layers of maternal mental health and the barriers to care. Panelists emphasized the need for more resources for people suffering from postpartum depression. They also highlighted the role of the doula when it comes to offering mental and emotional support and advocacy during the perinatal and postpartum periods. Attendees also learned more about the disparities in care for Black women and other people of color and some of the myths often associated with postpartum depression. For example, participants learned that "baby blues" is not a clinical diagnosis, nor is it equivalent to postpartum depression. Dr. Wen also shared her personal experience with postpartum depression and her surprise at the realization that she felt shame about seeking help.


3:30-5 p.m.
Widening the lens: How telling a fuller range of mental health stories could transform care, reduce stigma

In this panel moderated by Urban Health Media Project Founder Jayne O’ Donnell, panelists Kavita Patel, M.D, Lorenzo Lewis, and Benjamin F. Miller, Psy.D., explained the importance of integrating mental health into communities, schools, and physical health care. Speakers also offered perspectives and story ideas for journalists to explore. For example, one panelist noted the lack of reporting on the importance of a person's home environment on their mental health and that many primary care doctors don’t feel equipped to help their patients with their mental health needs. Participants also gained insight into The Confess Project, America’s first barber-led mental health movement, a program designed to help Black men talk about their mental health needs and get help.


5:30-6:30 p.m.
Our collective trauma: a conversation with Bessel van der Kolk

This Q&A with pioneer trauma clinician, researcher and author Bessel van der Kolk, who wrote the best-selling book, “The Body Keeps the Score,” was moderated by AHCJ’s Director of Education and Content Katherine Reed. Dr. Van der Kolk discussed the limitations of psychotherapeutic drugs for treating anxiety and depression when trauma is the cause of distress and the benefits of practices like qi gong and theater for trauma survivors. He also challenged journalists to highlight the importance of justice when it comes to trauma. “It’s better to have a good lawyer than a good psychiatrist,” he told participants.


Wednesday, Nov. 10

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
The nurses are not alright

During the pandemic, many nurses expressed overwhelming feelings of helplessness as they watched numerous patients succumb to COVID-19. In this discussion moderated by Medpage Today correspondent Shannon Firth, panelists Katie Boston-Leary, Ph.D., Desiree Shin, M.S.N., and Rachael Accardi, L.M.F.T., talked about the mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion nurses experienced during the pandemic. Results from a recent American Nurses Foundation survey, revealed alarming rates of anxiety and depression among nurses. Study data also suggested that some nurses don’t get the mental health care they need because of access issues, feeling they must tough it out or don’t have time to talk to a mental health professional. Panelists emphasized the importance of encouraging nurses to seek mental health care. At some hospitals, debriefings have allowed nurses to unpack critical incidents, work-related traumas they've experienced, and other adverse events in a compassionate forum.


1:30-3 p.m.
Untangling the complicated roots of vaccine hesitancy (and how to report on it)

In this panel moderated by AHCJ infectious diseases core topic leader Bara Vaida, panelists Rhonda Conerly Holliday, Ph.D., Gretchen Chapman, Ph.D., and Graham Mooney, Ph.D.,  discussed key causes of “vaccine hesitancy,” including the mass spread of misinformation and an overall distrust of the health care system among some populations. Mooney noted that distrust of vaccines has existed throughout history. Panelists also talked about ways to report on this topic. For example, speakers recommended sharing stories about the advances that accelerated vaccine development. Holliday talked about how a community was helping to boost confidence in the vaccine. Attendees also learned the key role journalists play in countering false information.


3:30-5 p.m.
Building resilience in physicians

Although physicians tend to have higher levels of resilience compared with the general U.S. population, nearly 30% of doctors have expressed feelings of anxiety, depression and overwork, according to recent American Medical Association data. In this panel moderated by independent journalist Mark Taylor, panelists Eugene Litvak, Ph.D., Jonathan Ripp, M.D., M.P.H., Gerald Harmon, M.D., and Rachel Villanueva, M.D. F.A.C.O.G., discussed the high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue physicians have experienced throughout the pandemic and how journalists can cover this story. Attendees also learned about tools and initiatives designed to reduce physician burnout including the AMA's Practice Transformation initiative to "create the conditions where joy, purpose and meaning are possible for physicians and other health professionals."  Villanueva, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics/gynecology and president of the National Medical Association, also offered insight into causes of burnout among physicians of color such as microaggressions, discrimination and stereotypes, cultural bias, imposter syndrome, etc.


5:15-6:15 p.m.
The Mental Health Justice Act: A Q&A with U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (D.-Orange County, Calif.)

In a Q&A moderated by AHCJ patient safety core topic leader Kerry Dooley Young, Rep. Katie Porter, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Orange County, Calif., talked about the promise of the recently introduced Mental Health Justice Act, a bill that would create mental health responders who can be dispatched in a mental health crisis rather than involving law enforcement whose interventions too often result in injury or death for people struggling with mental illness.


Thursday, Nov. 11

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Telehealth, apps and mental health tech: Promise and limitations

In this discussion moderated by AHCJ’s health IT core topic leader Karen Blum, panelists Amber W. Childs, Ph.D., John Torous, M.D., M.B.I.,and Nicholas B. Allen, Ph.D., talked about the use of telehealth and mental health apps as well as studies underway that make use of smartphones and wearable sensors to detect mental health needs and provide personalized care. Childs shared lessons learned about telehealth during the pandemic including a need for more workforce training for virtual mental health services. Torous talked about the crucial and new role of the digital navigator, someone who troubleshoots and sets up apps and makes recommendations to clinicians. 


1:30-3 p.m.
Teens, substance use and the pandemic

We entered the COVID-19 pandemic with an already strained mental health system. This session, moderated by Christine Herman, managing editor of Side Effects Public Media explored the intersection of mental health, addiction and pandemic stressors, focusing on teens. Senior policy analyst Nirmita Panchal presented federal data on mental illness and addiction among teens, revealing that 31% of parents said their child's mental or emotional health worsened during the pandemic. Addiction psychiatrist Tyler Oesterel, M.D., M.P.H., talked about substance use disorder as a developmental disease and how exposure at a sensitive stage (during adolescence) is a component of future drug addiction.


3:30-5 p.m.
Mushrooms and Molly: Psychedelics go mainstream in treatment

In this session moderated by independent journalist Stephanie O'Neill, panelists Corine de Boer, M.D., Ph.D., Jennifer Mitchell, Ph.D., and Charles S. Grob, M.D., talked about substances such as psilocybin ("shrooms" or "magic mushrooms") LSD and MDMA ("Molly" or "ecstasy") as promising therapeutic tools for treating multiple forms of anxiety, PTSD and addiction. Panelists presented promising research about the efficacy of MDMA for patients with severe PTSD and explained how and why the psychedelics' treatment model may have something to offer mainstream mental health care delivery.


8-9 p.m.
Keynote: The case for a global mental health solution (and the U.S. role in achieving it) 

Vikram Patel, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., The Pershing Square professor of Global Health, Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, highlighted six main reasons why mental health care in the U.S. has failed most people. He also presented his vision for a community-based approach to care that teaches lay people to provide short-term intervention in places — including in the U.S. — where mental health care is scant or non-existent. The session was moderated by AHCJ’s mental health core topic leader Katti Gray.