Welcome to my blog, which speaks to parents, professionals who work with children, and policy makers. Through stories from my behavioral pediatrics practice (with details changed to protect privacy) I will show how contemporary developmental science can be applied to support parents in their efforts to facilitate their children’s healthy emotional development. I will address factors that converge to obstruct such support. These include limited access to quality mental health care, influences of a powerful health insurance industry and intensive marketing efforts by the pharmaceutical industry.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mental Health and the Media

How do mental health professionals, including both clinicians and researchers, effectively communicate their ideas to a lay audience in a way that is meaningful and can facilitate change?

This was the question raised in a fascinating event I attended at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, MA this weekend. The occasion was the presenting of the first Erickson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media The award winners, Alix Spiegel of NPR; Erica Goode of The New York Times; and Richard Simon of The Psychotherapy Networker, spoke about their work. The aim of the prize is twofold, both to reward journalists who have made major contributions to public understanding of mental health issues, and to educate mental health clinicians on how they might better communicate their important ideas to a larger community.

Effective communication of contemporary research in mental health is, in my opinion, a very important goal to work towards. As I have written about at length in this blog and elsewhere, my exposure to both the front lines of primary care pediatrics and the most contemporary research in child development, motivates me to get these ideas out to a lay audience, with the aim of facilitating a paradigm shift in how we as a culture think about "problem behavior" in children.

To that end, I have a piece in today's Boston Globe entitled Distracted parenting: hang up and see your baby. Drawing from a recent blog post, it and asks the question about the possible effect on early development of excessive use of cell phones by parents. I hope it will generate some thoughtful discussion.

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