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Schools learning to address rising student self-injury

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"Schools around the country have begun offering new classes and mental-health programs to help stem a sharp rise in the number of adolescents found to be engaging in self injury, especially cutting," begins a recent Wall Street Journal article. The piece goes on to outline the use of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in schools across the country to offer kids other tools to deal with overwhelming emotions.


Janis Whitlock

Janis Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery, was a resource for the "Teen Cutting: Myths & Facts" sidebar on the article:

Myth: Cutting is a kind of suicide attempt.
Fact: Cutting usually isn’t intended to be life-ending. It is a coping mechanism used by young people who are stressed, overwhelmed or in emotional pain. It helps them manage their emotions and feel temporary relief.

Myth: Self-injury is something girls do, not boys.
Fact: Therapists and school officials often see more self-injuring girls than boys, but it may be that girls are more willing to ask for help. In many research samples of self-injuring people, there is a small, or no, difference in the proportion of males versus females. Girls are more likely to cut; boys are more likely to hit or burn.

Myth: Self-harm is a problem among teens but not younger children.
Fact: In a sample of 665 youth surveyed for a 2012 paper in Pediatrics, 7.6% of third graders, 4% of sixth graders, and 12.7% of ninth graders reported engaging in non-suicidal self-injury. Self-harming behaviors included cutting, hitting and scratching.

Myth: Self-injury is a problem among social misfits and struggling students.
Fact: People who self-harm include excellent students and those who struggle; youth who have a hard time fitting in, as well as leaders with a wide circle of friends; and those from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Myth: People who cut are looking for attention.
Fact: Most people who do it say cutting, while painful, makes them feel relief temporarily. Young people often do it secretly: In one study, nearly a quarter of adolescents who reported self-injuring said they were sure nobody knew or suspected. Some say the physical pain distracts them from emotional pain, or that it makes them feel more alive.


Schools face the teen cutting problem - Wall Street Journal

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Marriage is good for your health…especially if you’re a man

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homeslider-2015-pillemer-foxandfriends3It's well established by research that being married extends your life expectancy, improves your psychological well-being, and lowers your risk for heart disease and cancer. A new study from the Institute of Education at University College London confirms these positive outcomes for married people and finds that married men fare even better than married women.

BCTR director Karl Pillemer appeared on Fox & Friends to comment on these findings. In the interview he notes that, generally, unmarried women live healthier lives than unmarried men and that, in marriage, the healthier women influence the unhealthier men in a positive way. The study looked at data from 2002-2004 and included only heterosexual marriages.

Study finds marriage is good for your health - Fox & Friends (video)


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Whitlock quoted on self-injury in US News & World Report

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Misconceptions and misinformation about self-injury can keep sufferers from getting care and effect how they are treated by others. A recent US News & World Report article addresses some common myths about self-injury, including that self-injurers are suicidal, that self-injury is uncommon, and that the behavior is untreatable.

0089_12_140.jpgJanis Whitlock, director of the BCTR's Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery, was quoted in the section dispelling the misconception about self-injurers necessarily being suicidal:

If someone becomes suicidal, then the act of having engaged in self-injury does psychologically prepare them to damage their body. That piece, for somebody who's never hurt their body before, is not easy. We have a lot of inner safeguards, psychologically, from taking our own lives. Somebody who really wants to commit suicide is going to have to overcome that. And somebody with self-injury has already practiced hurting themselves that way.

The article includes nine myths about self-injury in all.

Myths and facts about self-injury - US News & World Report

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Talks at Twelve: Rebecca Seguin, Thursday, May 14, 2015

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Using Tablet-Based Technology with Residents to Understand Barriers and Facilitators to Healthy Eating and Active Living: Rural Findings and Potential Catalysts for Change
Rebecca Seguin, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University

Thursday, May 14, 2015
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall.

A community’s built environment can influence key health behaviors. Rural populations experience significant health disparities, yet built environment studies in these settings are limited. In her talk, Rebecca Seguin will explore the use of an innovative, participatory, tablet-based community assessment tool, the Discovery Tool App, to conduct built environment audits in rural settings. Twenty-four community residents in four rural Upstate New York towns were given the opportunity to utilize this tool and provide their feedback through focus group sessions. Dr. Seguin will describe resident perspectives on community built environment features as identified through the use of the Discovery Tool as well as opportunities for community improvement and change.

Dr. Rebecca Seguin is assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and recipient of a BCTR Pilot Study grant on which her talk is based. Her current research focuses on understanding how people’s social, food, and physical activity environments influence behavior over time—particularly in rural communities. She is also working on community mobilization and capacity building initiatives with health educators who serve rural areas. The goal is to provide training and evaluation tools to help them engage residents to become involved in programs and policies to improve their food and physical activity environments through collective action.

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2015 Doris Lecture: Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood, Tuesday, April 14, 2015

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Implementation Research in State Systems for Children with Behavioral Health Needs
Kimberly Eaton Hoagwood, New York University

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
12:00 PM
Nevin Welcome Center, The Plantations

Dissemination-Implementation science has emerged over the past decade replete with conceptual models and studies of barriers to the successful implementation of evidence-based programs. This work has been of limited usefulness to state systems that are undergoing massive changes due to changes in the healthcare system. These changes target accountability, costs, and outcomes of state services. In the rush by state health and mental health authorities to accommodate these changes, services for children and adolescents are being largely overlooked. Yet ironically the most direct way to address system problems is through redesign of prevention and intervention services for children. This entails closing the gap between evidence-based care and its implementation in real world settings. A body of research is emerging that identifies system-level, organizational-level, and individual-level (child and family) interventions that can dramatically improve services and outcomes for children and adolescents. Approaches include evidence-based framing, strategic collaborative interventions, quality metrics, and data driven feedback systems. In her talk, Dr. Kimberly Hoagwood will provide examples of each and recommend a research agenda to accelerate practical progress.

Kimberly Hoagwood is Cathy and Stephen Graham Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. She is Director and Principal Investigator of an Advanced Center on Implementation and Dissemination Science in States for Children and Families, located at New York University and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (P30 MH090322), called The IDEAS Center. She co-directs the Clinic Technical Assistance Center with Dr. Mary McKay, funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Previously Kimberly was Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, specializing in children’s mental health services research. She also works with the division of Children, Youth and Families at the New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH) as a Research Scientist. Before coming to New York, she was Associate Director for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and oversaw the portfolio of research on child and adolescent mental health, from basic to applied studies. This gave her a broad perspective on research gaps and on ways to connect different areas of science through interdisciplinary theory and methods. She served as the Scientific Editor for the Office of the Surgeon General’s National Action Agenda on Children’s Mental Health with Dr. David Satcher.

Kimberly is Principal Investigator on several other major grants and subcontracts, all focused on improving the quality of services for children and families. Her special emphasis is on parent activation in children’s health services, as well as the organizational and policy contexts for children’s mental health services.

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Iscol Summer Scholars help organize Brooklyn health fair

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Iscol Scholars Ovais Tahir and David Cheng

Iscol Scholars Ovais Tahir and David Cheng

This summer the Iscol Summer Scholars, participants in the Cornell Urban Semester Summer in NYC, hosted a health fair, Take Control of Your Health,  in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. Over 200 attending families received health tests including blood pressure, cholesterol and asthma screenings, BMI measurements, and got information on colon and breast cancer. In addition to health tests, families were able to meet privately with a medical doctor to review their health status and receive recommendations for healthier living.

Along with 60 Urban Semester students, the four Iscol Scholars (Deanna Blansky, David Cheng, Jessica Park, and Ovais Tahir) planned the health fair, with tasks ranging from coordinating staffing, supplying food and decorations, meeting with Woodhull Medical Center staff to discuss what medical services and information would be offered, and setting up and supervising the event. Spanish-speaking students helped publicized the health fair by speaking about the health fair at the host church in the preceding weeks.

The health fair was made possible through the collaboration of the Urban Semester Program, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, and the St. Joseph Patron church.

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ACT for Youth supports sex education and positive youth development at Provider Day


Attendees at Provider Day

Attendees at Provider Day
Photo by Brian Maley

This September, the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence (COE) sponsored Provider Day 2014, a professional development conference for 224 teen pregnancy prevention program staff from communities across New York State. The COE provides technical assistance, training, and evaluation for three pregnancy prevention initiatives funded by the New York State Department of Health. Sex educators and youth service professionals from each initiative came together in Albany to share and gain new insights, strategies, and tools to promote healthy development among youth.

The evening before Provider Day, the BCTR hosted a reception that set a warm and collegial tone. Jane Powers and John Eckenrode opened the day’s events, and BCTR staff offered workshops on a range of topics, including Self-Care and Youth Work (Heather Wynkoop Beach and Michele Luc), Youth with Mental Health Concerns (Jutta Dotterweich), Using Evaluation Data (Mary Maley and Amanda Purington), and Life Purpose and Teens (Janis Whitlock), among others.

One participant wrote,

I found the day valuable and validating. I believe we need all the validation we can get when working in this field. It's not easy, and when we can recharge and gain new knowledge and tools, I know that I come back to the office looking for ways to use the information I have gotten. Thank you!

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    Amanda Purington    health    Heather Wynkoop    Jane Powers    Janis Whitlock    John Eckenrode    Jutta Dotterweich    Mary Maley    mental health    sexual health    youth   

Visiting fellow Ravhee Bholah joins the center this semester

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news-bholah-inpostRavhee Bholah, an associate professor at the Mauritius Institute of Education, received a Fulbright Scholarship to study policy and community partnerships that promote adolescent sexual health, with a particular focus on school-based programs. He plays leading roles in curriculum development on sexual health, HIV prevention, and education for sustainable development in the Republic of Mauritius. Ravhee works closely with the United Nations Development Programme, UNESCO, the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development, and the Southern African Development Community Regional Environmental Education Programme on regional programs addressing these issues. He has been a member of various committees at national and regional levels. For instance, he has been the chairperson of Network of African Science Academies Expert Group Committee since 2012 and a member of the South African Development Community Education for Sustainable Development Research Network since 2008. At national level in Mauritius, he is a member of steering committees at the Ministry of Education and Human Resources for the following: (1) Sexuality Education, (2) Health and (3) Climate Change Adaptation. He is a board member of the National Ramsar Committee in Mauritius. He has also done considerable work on climate change education. Ravhee will be working in the BCTR as a visiting fellow through the end of December.

He will be mentored by Jennifer Tiffany during his time at Cornell, and he will be working very closely with the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence.

Ravhee is joined his wife Rouma and their three sons, Divyesh, Sudhakar, and Prabhakar, ages 10, 12, and 15, respectively.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    environment    health    international    Jennifer Tiffany    sexual health    visiting fellow   

Talks at Twelve: Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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More Body Projects
Joan Jacobs Brumberg, Cornell University

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
12:00PM - 1:30PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This illustrated talk is a reprise of a lecture delivered at Cornell’s June 2014 reunion. Professor Brumberg will discuss the ways in which the adolescent female body has been shaped by American culture, focusing on how body projects and body modification have changed over the past 20 years since the publication of her award-winning book The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls.


Joan Jacobs Brumberg, a social and cultural historian, is a faculty fellow at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. As Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and a professor in the College of Human Ecology, she taught courses for over twenty years on the history of American childhood, American women and girls, and the history of medicine. She has written three books on adolescents: Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa, The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, and Kansas Charley: The Boy Murderer. In addition to book awards, she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations. She is a fellow of the Society of American Historians.

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A new approach to managing arthritis pain

(0) Comments  |   Tags: aging,   Cary Reid,   Emily Chen,   health,   Karl Pillemer,   media mention,   TRIPLL,  

Karl Pillemer

Karl Pillemer

Although they had developed a program that was proven to help people manage arthritis pain, Cornell researchers found that participants were having trouble attending all of the training sessions. In a recent Cornell Chronicle article, the BCTR's Karl Pillemer, co-director of  the Translational Research Institute on Pain in Later Life (TRIPLL), described the disconnect:

Effective health programs may not reach people who need them due to factors such as culture, language, age or income, but changing programs to meet the needs of new target populations can make a dramatic difference.

To figure out ways to ensure better attendance, researchers Cary Reid, Karl Pillemer, and their colleagues met with community practitioners, arthritis sufferers, and program instructors. They ultimately incorporated over 30 suggested changes to create new guidelines for implementing the program. Results of the study were published in the Musculoskeletal Journal of the Hospital for Special Surgery this February.  Measuring the Value of Program Adaptation: A Comparative Effectiveness Study of the Standard and a Culturally Adapted Version of the Arthritis Self-Help Program was also co-authored by BCTR graduate research assistant Emily Chen, Cornell senior research associate Charles Henderson, and Samantha Parker of Tulane University School of Medicine. The study was partially funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute on Aging. Adapted arthritis program boosts participation - Cornell Chronicle

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: aging    Cary Reid    Emily Chen    health    Karl Pillemer    media mention    TRIPLL