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Monday, Feb. 1, 2021
Contact: Maria Kakay
(Office) 412-366-3788
(Cell) 412-607-5412
Youth Mental Health Conference Goes Virtual, 
Focuses on the Impact Pandemic is Having on Young People
Pittsburgh - On Friday, February 5 NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania will host a virtual education conference focusing on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on children, adolescents, and transition age youth. The conference, Closing the Gap: Prioritizing the Needs of Traumatized Youth , will examine the intersection between the pandemic and complex trauma, and the role trauma plays in rising suicide rates among marginalized youth. 

“This is the fifth year for our youth mental health conference, but our first time hosting a virtual event,” said Christine Michaels, CEO of NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania. “We knew the pandemic was going to affect the format of the event, but the important thing for us was to make sure the event still went on because the need for resources is so high right now.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a variety of problems for young people including uncertainty, isolation, and a change in habits. But for youth who have a history of depression, anxiety, or trauma the pandemic is having an even greater impact.

“Young people are dealing with a lot right now. Parents, educators, and mental health professionals are concerned about the long-term effects of the pandemic, so we want to make sure that we are providing ideas, resources, and thoughtful discussion so adults are better prepared to help youth, said Michaels.” 

Conference presenters include NAMI CEO Dan Gillison Jr., and Kai Koerber, a survivor of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Additional speakers are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Aspen Institute, Complex Trauma Treatment Center Boston, Penn State College of Medicine, and UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

The conference will also recognize the recipient of NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania’s 2021 Youth Mental Health Leadership Award, Abby Rickin-Marks. Abby, a senior in the Fox Chapel Area School District in Pittsburgh, received four nominations for her tireless work in her school and the community to raise mental health awareness and reduce stigma. One of the organizations that nominated Abby was the Jewish Healthcare Foundation where she is a student advocate on their Youth Advocacy Committee.

“Her warm and empathic approach as well as her openness about her experiences creates an environment that is welcoming to teens of all backgrounds,” said Deborah Murdoch, Program Manager for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5. To learn more about the conference visit www.namikeystonepa.org/education/conferences/camhcon2021.



MEDIA CONTACT:  Maria Kakay, Dir. of Communications and Marketing, NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania  |  EMAIL:  mkakay@namikeystonepa.org  |   OFFICE: 412-366-3788  |   CELL: 412-607-5412

ABOUT NAMI KEYSTONE PENNSYLVANIA  |  NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania is the state organization in Pennsylvania for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the largest grassroots mental health organization in the country. NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania is a 501(c)(3) grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children, adolescents, adults, and families affected by mental illness through recovery-focused support, education, and advocacy. More information is available at www.namikeystonepa.org or by calling (412) 366-3788.

NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania is here for you.   If you have questions about mental health resources, call our HelpLine at 1-888-264-7972 or email info@namikeystonepa.org. For crisis support 24/7, text NAMI to 741741.  To find the NAMI affiliate in Pennsylvania closest to you, click here.


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Phone: 412-366-3788 | HelpLine: 1-888-264-7972

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