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Most teenagers agree that expressing their emotions is difficult – especially in conversations with their parents. And when asked what most parents get wrong, young people usually point to parents who minimalize the mental health experiences of their children. That disconnection can lead to delayed treatment, worsening symptoms, and emotional crises.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, more teens are now finding help in an unexpected way: through social media and similar platforms. Virtual therapy has become a lifeline – especially for teens whose parents are unable or unwilling to connect with them on the issue of mental health.
During these increased times of isolation, join WQED for Healthy Connections: Teens, Parents, Educators, and Mental Health. In this virtual discussion, we’ll explore specific tools that will help parents and teens find common grounds and understanding, while offering guidance to educators in recognizing signs of mental illness in students.
WQED is collaborating on this project with NAMI Keystone PA, the state organization in Pennsylvania for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and local school districts.
About the Host
Beth Dolinar, Documentary & Digital Content Producer, WQED Multimedia
Beth Dolinar is a documentary and digital content producer at WQED Multimedia in Pittsburgh. Her Emmy award-winning work has explored social issues including opioid addiction, mental illness, childhood trauma and the challenges facing the families of incarcerated adults.
About the Panelists
Michelle Decker, Young Adult Outreach & Education Specialist, NAMI Keystone, PA
Michelle Decker is the Young Adult Outreach and Education Specialist at NAMI Keystone PA. Michelle uses her lived experiences to help spread awareness and stop the spread of mental health stigma through NAMI Educational Presentations, as well as her own writing. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys singing showtunes aggressively to her cat, and counting down the days until theatre starts up again!
Nicholas Emeigh, Director of Outreach & Development, NAMI Bucks County, PA
Nicholas Emeigh is a mental health advocate and public speaker with 5 years of continuous recovery from mental illness, substance use, and is a survivor of 3 suicide attempts. He proudly serves the community as Director of Outreach and Development for NAMI Bucks County PA providing help, hope, awareness and opportunities to Bucks County’s 640,000 residents. He speaks often at conferences, schools, and institutions of medicine and higher learning on the power of peer support, about his own journey through an intense battle with mental illness, and what he is doing now to help shatter the stigma so that no one feels alone on their journey to recovery.
LemLem Gamble, Student, Washington and Jefferson College student
LemLem Gamble is a third-year student at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA. She plays lacrosse and is majoring in Music with a concentration on Vocal Performance. She has worked to understand her own struggles with mental health, and uses what she’s learned to help others.
Elle Snyder, Student, Upper Saint Clair High School
Elle Snyder, a founding member of the Upper St. Clair Student Wellness Steering Committee, attends Upper St. Clair high school, where she in her senior year and is a member of the soccer team. The Student Wellness Steering Committee works to raise mental health awareness at the high school. Elle organized the Upper St. Clair Student Wellness Steering Committee, involved her soccer teammates in supporting NAMI through its outreach programs, chaired the Children for Children charity event, and received NAMI Keystone PA’s Youth Mental Health Leadership award in 2020 after speaking at their Child and Adolescent Mental Health Conference.
About the Interviews
Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America.
Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America (MHA), has worked in a variety of health and mental-health related positions during a career spanning forty years. He joined MHA in 2014. His essay How I Helped Create a Flawed Mental Health System That’s Failed Millions – And My Son, was published in Health Affairs in September 2012. His policy memoir, Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia, was published by Columbia University Press in October 2014. From 2013-2017, he served a four-year term on the National Advisory Council to the SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services. He was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1979 until 1990, and he served as Mayor of Middletown, CT from 1989-1991.