Palo Alto University professor Robert Friedberg, Ph.D., is set to share his mental health expertise, as well as insight from research into the effects of the pandemic on young people's mental health, in the upcoming free webinar next Wednesday (Sept. 21).
"The COVID-19 global pandemic ruptured the world community," Friedberg said in a press release from the Alan Hu Foundation. "The viral outbreak also accelerated rates of depression."
Friedberg went on to point to research that suggests one in four young people said they were experiencing symptoms of depression.
"While the rates of depression were high prior to the pandemic, rates are expected to surge in the peri- and post-pandemic era," Friedberg said. "Therefore, identifying children at-risk for depressive disorders and providing proper care to them is imperative."
With fewer options for pharmaceutical treatments being recommended to young people than to adults, talk-based therapies offer a wider range of choices for younger patients, with less risk of side effects.
"Fortunately, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an empirically supported psychosocial intervention for depression in youth," Friedberg said. "This webinar will discuss common signs of depression in youth, ways to identify these symptoms, and an overview of what parents and youth can expect from CBT-oriented treatment."
The Alan Hu Foundation is a nonprofit that was founded to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues, as well as supporting research into treatment options. It was created by Xiaofang Chen and Chih-Ching Hu in memory of their son Alan Hu, who died by suicide at 15 years old in 2018 after struggles with mental health.
"His pain was real and unbearable, yet it was invisible," Chen said on the foundation's website. "There was no thermometer to show a fever, no imaging to show a lump inside, and no blood test to show elevated white blood cell counts."
The foundation specifically seeks to address issues with existing mental health care practices that Chen believes led up to her son's death.
"Mental disorders are far from rare, but talking about them is rare," Chen said. "They frighten people because there is too little understanding of them. People have overcome many other diseases because knowledgeable health care providers and appropriate treatments were available. The same thing will happen with respect to mental diseases when people start talking about them, paying attention to them and gaining a better understanding of them."
The free webinar featuring Friedberg is scheduled for Sept. 21 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. A meeting link is available by registering at alanhufoundation.org.