Panel Discussion Focused on the Role Mindfulness Plays in Mental Health

New York, NY, May 19, 2015 – The Child Mind Institute hosted the 2015 Spring Luncheon at 320 Park Avenue yesterday, which featured a panel discussion on the health benefits of mindfulness for children and adults, moderated by bestselling author and psychiatrist Dr. Gail Saltz and featuring ABC News Correspondent Dan Harris.

During the discussion, entitled “The Science of Mindfulness,” Dr. Saltz, Harris and CMI’s own Drs. Allison Baker and Cameron Craddock discussed the practice of learning to quiet one’s mind and participate in each moment fully without judgment. Mindfulness has been shown-as supported by neuroscience-to reduce stress for adults and help children with emotional and behavioral challenges.

Harris, who has written extensively about mental health in his best selling book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Really Works – a True Story, shared his powerful personal story about how he dealt with a career setback through the discovery of his mindfulness practice.

“Mindfulness is the ability to see what’s going on in your head, ” Harris said. “Combined with the ability to not get carried away with it.”

The reason to practice it, he noted, is that “most of the things that you are most embarrassed by in your life come from mindlessness: Finding yourself with your hand in the refrigerator when you’re not hungry. Checking your cell phone when your kid is trying to talk to you. Losing your temper when it’s strategically unwise.”

Being mindful, Harris said, is essentially getting out of your own way. “Your thoughts may continue to be agitated and anxious, but you have the ability to step back and interact with them differently,” he said.

Dr. Baker, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute, spoke on mindfulness as an effective treatment for children with anxiety disorders. Dr. Baker, who has expertise in the evaluation and treatment of a variety of psychiatric disorders affecting children and young adults, led the 150 guests through a mindfulness exercise. Additionally, Dr. Craddock, the Director of Imaging for CMI and an internationally recognized neuroimaging researcher, reflected on the neuroscience of mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is such an important topic and the Child Mind Institute is thrilled to have Gail and Dan be a part of the discussion,” said Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, Founder and President of the Child Mind Institute. “Their experiences combined with Allison and Cameron’s clinical and research backgrounds made for an informative conversation about a practical tool every parent can use to enhance their own lives and the lives of their children.”

The luncheon came on the heels of the release of the Child Mind Institute’s inaugural Children’s Mental Health Report, which found that 17.1 million kids in the US have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. That’s more than the number of kids with asthma (7 million), peanut allergies (7 million), and diabetes (200,000) combined. Less than 35% of these kids will receive treatment. Funds raised at the luncheon will go toward mental health care and research for these children.

The event was hosted by Jeanne Andlinger, Stacy Bash-Polley, Ellen Cohen, Barbara Eig, Desiree Gruber, Tania Higgins, Tammy Levine, Christine Mack, Valerie Mnuchin, Amy Tucker Meltzer, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.