06 February 2024

International Mental Health Adolescence Conference

Sixth Formers Charlene and Doras work together to host a conference focusing on teen mental health.

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Adolescence is an important period for developing social and emotional skills, ingraining them into habits. In our world today, teenagers are subjected to huge amounts of pressure varying from stress in schoolwork, complications in familial ties, and questions regarding the future. Recognising these issues, Alina Soifer, Charlene Wong (L6) and I (L6) hosted an International Mental Health Adolescence Conference with over 170 participants, both live and post-recorded.

The conference provided insight into mental health disorders for parents and children, covering practical skills for personal growth and addressing common teenage struggles such as anxiety. Three incredible speakers; a neuroscientist from Harvard University, a psychiatrist from UMass Memorial Hospital, and a wellbeing coach with a million followers, were featured to foster awareness about emotional wellbeing.

Harvard Neuroscientist Dr Kevin Mastro’s long term goal is to understand how the brain and behaviour changes over the course of adolescence. Including some of his own post-doc work, Dr Mastro presented cutting-edge research on the changes in the brain during adolescence, helping students and parents identify normal and abnormal teenage behaviour.

Dr Safdar Medina, an adolescent psychiatrist at UMass Memorial Hospital addressed the ‘adolescent mental health epidemic’. Dr Medina elaborated on the reasons behind creating healthy habits such as adopting healthy sleep patterns, exercising regularly, developing health coping strategies, and eating a balanced diet. He emphasised the importance of teenagers connecting with both their peers and their parents. In addition, he gave us insight the diagnosis process and potential treatments of different mental health disorders.

Wellbeing coach Melissa Ummed recommended healthy emotional coping strategies to tackle anxiety. She emphasised the importance of paying attention to one’s breathing, something that we all have to constantly do, yet pay such little attention to. She shed light on emotional regulation in the face of an increase in academic and social pressures.

Through this conference, I hope to have empowered and uplift the moods of the student body, fostering a supportive community dedicated to the wellbeing of teenagers worldwide. I believe that this conference helps form a transformative movement, inviting students, teachers and parents to join me on this journey of empowering and helping teenagers seek a brighter and happier future!

Doras Tin, Lower Sixth

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