Several national nonprofit organizations will collaborate with big-name celebrities this Thursday night in a free and open Facebook Live discussion about the mental health effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The 90-minute event, hosted by actress Chase Masterson, founder and CEO of the Pop Culture Hero Coalition, “will feature meaningful and educational discussions with experts and authors on the topics of youth mental health, trauma and resiliency one year into our screen-dependent pandemic.”
Starting at 8:30 pm Eastern, English TV star Jameela Jamil and slapstick comedian Joe Gatto will join a list of acclaimed psychologists, experts and authors that includes Dr. Janina Scarlet; Dr. Andrea Letamendi; Dr. Chris Coker; Dr. Rheeda Walker; Dr. Michael Rich; the Rev. Rob Lee; Carrie Goldman; Larissa May; and Kevin Washington, the President and CEO of YMCA of the USA.
“The global pandemic has exposed families to unprecedented levels of slow-burn trauma and stress, exposing the gap in resources for how children can manage and recuperate from prolonged levels of uncertainty and anxiety,” said Goldman, co-founder and curriculum director of the Pop Culture Hero Coalition, the event’s lead sponsor. “While we have spent the past five years developing a groundbreaking social emotional learning curriculum for kids, it’s more relevant now than ever as they start to recover from the difficulty and trauma brought on by the pandemic.”
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Earlier this year, the CDC released updated guidelines on how Americans can best cope with stress, including eating healthy, getting enough sleep, keeping a regular exercise routine and avoiding excessive alcohol, tobacco and substance use. A new study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that among young adults, levels of clinical depression among those surveyed jumped from 14.9% in fall 2019 to 34.7% in May/June 2020.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the mental health of many people, but especially kids, teens and families,” Washington said. “Social isolation, virtual learning, societal unrest and general stress and anxiety have all taken a tremendous toll on parents and children alike. By bringing together celebrity champions of mental health and experts in psychology and youth development, we hope to raise awareness and provide families with tools that can help them recover from this pandemic and thrive once again.”
“The cacophony of opposing opinions on digital use and the impact of screens on children often leaves us confused, overwhelmed and wary,” said Rich, who serves as Boston Children’s Hospital Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Founder of the Digital Wellness Lab. “Working together with organizations such as the Pop Culture Hero Coalition and YMCA of the USA is the perfect example of how doctors, scientists and teachers are coming together with technology innovators and content creators to build a digital environment that promotes individual and societal wellness.”
“Having worked with Pop Culture Hero Coalition for several years, including in the Be Kind campaign, I’ve seen firsthand the impact they make,” said Gatto, of Impractical Jokers fame. “Broadening the reach of the Coalition’s work with this partnership is a powerful step for the lives of kids and teens. It’s really exciting to see them grow and be able to do so much more good in the world.”
More information about the event, officially titled ‘Resilience, Empathy, Healthy Screen-Time: An Honest Conversation,’ can be found here.