Panel discussion on anxiety also featured Child Mind Institute (CMI) president Dr. Harold Koplewicz and CMI expert clinician Dr. Jerry Bubrick.
The Child Mind Institute hosted approximately 160 guests at a panel discussion about anxiety and the importance of early intervention featuring Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic and author of the New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search for Peace of Mind. The event was moderated by Michelle Kydd Lee, the Chief Innovation Officer and member of the senior leadership team at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and also featured the Child Mind Institute’s president, Dr. Harold Koplewicz, and Dr. Jerry Bubrick, senior director of the CMI Anxiety & Mood Disorders Center and director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Service.
“Early intervention is crucial,” Stossel told the audience. “I was first diagnosed in 1980 or 1981; at the time there was so much stigma attached to mental illness and people thought if you had a psychiatric disorder you were weak. It was hard for my father — who was a doctor — to accept, but when I was 11 my mother took me to a hospital to get evaluated and I went into psychotherapy, which was tremendously helpful and basically kept me in school. But it should have been earlier.”
Dr. Bubrick discussed cognitive behavioral therapy, the gold-standard evidence-based treatment for anxiety and other mental health disorders. “It’s interesting to learn about a child’s history,” he said, “but what I’m really more concerned about is how they’re functioning in that moment, what symptoms they have, and teaching them skills and strategies to manage their symptoms. It’s all about developing skills that will help them long after they’ve left my office.”
Dr. Bubrick provided an example. Children with social anxiety have an unrealistic fear of being harshly judged, he said, so they often stop going to play dates and parties. That avoidance temporarily relieves anxiety, but over the long term it teaches kids to simply avoid things that cause anxiety, limiting their lives. The intervention must be action-oriented. Dr. Bubrick helps these children overcome fear and anxiety by gradually introducing them to situations where they must speak to new people, and then asking them to intentionally embarrass themselves. This shows children they can tolerate uncomfortable feelings and face their anxiety.
“I often explain to the kids that I work with that the only way around is through,” Dr. Bubrick said, adding that these treatments are highly effective and can positively change a child’s life.
The luncheon and other events like it are part of the Child Mind Institute’s public education mission, giving families and professionals accurate information at no cost about mental health and learning disorders and how to find effective treatment.
“We’re trying to educate America about how real, common and treatable these disorders are,” Dr. Koplewicz said. “The most common set of illnesses in childhood and adolescence are mental health disorders. I don’t think people can put their head around it because the number is so staggering: 17.1 million children in the United States under the age of 18 will have a mental health disorder. It is truly a public health crisis.”
The luncheon Host Committee included Cori and Tony Bates; Agapi and Bruce Burkard; Stacy Drazan; Abby Durban; Eve and Ross Jaffe; Linnea Roberts; Allison and Dan Rose; Annie Ulevitch; and Amy Yang.
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 childmind.org.