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Child Mind Institute Hosts Spring Luncheon Featuring Actress Ali Wentworth, Author and University of Pennsylvania Department of Neurology Chair Dr. Frances E. Jensen and Child Mind Institute President Dr. Harold Koplewicz

May 18, 2016

Panel discussion focuses on the mental health concerns that develop during adolescence.

New York, NY, May 18, 2016 – The Child Mind Institute hosted its 2016 Spring Luncheon on Monday, featuring a panel discussion about the teenage brain and the actions, attitudes and often roller coaster-like emotional lives of adolescents. The event was moderated by actress Ali Wentworth and featured Dr. Frances E. Jensen, the author of The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults and chair of the Department of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Child Mind Institute President Dr. Harold Koplewicz.

“Up until recently we all thought that brain development ended once you were through puberty and that adolescents were just adults with fewer miles on them,” Dr. Jensen said. “And now it’s quite clear – this is just a fact of science – that the brain does not stop developing until the mid to late twenties.”

Dr. Jensen and Dr. Koplewicz discussed how parents can best anticipate and respond to the challenges and mental health concerns that often arise during adolescence. The two doctors explained that teenagers experience intense emotion because their brains are still developing: they’re well-connected in areas involving emotion but not in the frontal lobe, which is chiefly responsible for decision-making and problem-solving.

“Teenagers are able to learn more, absorb more of the environment — both good things and bad,” Dr. Jensen said. “The brain can learn faster, but it can also be damaged faster. It’s one of the most sensitive times in life.”

In the teenage years, kids separate from their parents, form networks with their peers, establish a sexual orientation, and begin to chart an educational and vocational course, Dr. Koplewicz added. These challenges help explain why teenagers are so prone to experimenting with different ideas and identities. Both he and Dr. Jensen advised parents to have an open dialogue with their children about drugs and alcohol and to spend time listening to their questions and concerns.

“It’s a very stressful time for teenagers,” Dr. Koplewicz said. “Don’t wait for your children to start the conversation. Make sure you have regular opportunities to spend time with them and talk about their lives.”

Dr. Jensen echoed this sentiment, adding that it’s important to remember that their feelings are valid. “They are experiencing emotion in technicolor while we are experiencing it in black and white,” she said. “When your child comes to you distraught over something and you tell them ‘that’s ridiculous,’ remember they’re really experiencing it as something major.”

The luncheon was co-chaired by members of the Child Mind Institute Board of Directors, Christine Mack, Valerie Mnuchin and Debra Perelman, and the host committee included Ellen Cohen, The Eig Family Foundation, Desiree Gruber, Tania Higgins, Preethi Krishna and Tammy Levine.

“Parents are wishing there was a manual or at least a guidebook to children,” Mack said. “The questions are endless and the answers are not easy. This is why I’m so excited to host this luncheon and panel discussion today.”

The event was a part of the Child Mind Institute’s annual public education campaign, Speak Up for Kids, held each May to promote children’s mental health. In its sixth year, the campaign celebrates people making change in children’s mental health and provides accurate information to the media, families, educators and leaders that empowers them to speak up for kids.

About the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is an independent nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers with resources to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we’re helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at

About Our National Partner


For six years, Hunter has been a strong and steadfast partner for the Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids campaign.

Founded in 1856, Hunter is a progressive British heritage brand renowned for its iconic Original boot and holds two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The brand has a rich history of innovation and continues to be worn on the festival fields, the city streets, as well as challenging outdoor landscapes.

Speak Up for Kids partners include:

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