Friday, October 4, 2013

Knowledge is power


DREAM TEAM: From left, Gorrindo, Braaten, Schlozman and Beresin 

After years of planning and thanks to the help of generous donors, The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds: Developing Resilience through Engagement, Awareness and Media (DREAM) is a reality.

The Clay Center is an online resource aimed at educating parents and other caregivers about the mental health needs of children, teens and young adults who struggle with behavioral, emotional and/or learning challenges. While based at the MGH, the center will foster collaborations between Harvard Medical School and experts from regional and national mental health organizations.

“Our mission is education,” says Gene Beresin, MD, director of the MGH Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program, who serves as executive director of The Clay Center. “We want to provide a strong, virtual community to support the mental health needs of young people and their families. We know the majority of psychiatric disorders begin in young adulthood, but if we can catch them early, there is a better chance of preventing hardship later.”

The Clay Center’s website offers a wealth of information including “Where to turn,” a comprehensive list of services, as well as a variety of blog posts – 
many supplemented by videos – by MGH clinicians to address parenting concerns categorized by age group. Topics range from “Giving a 2-year-old a 15-minute time-out” to “What if my child has an anxiety disorder?” The center’s outreach efforts involve social media, partnerships with media outlets, original podcasts, education forums and collaborations with a number of specialists across Partners HealthCare and the hospital, including those within the MassGeneral Hospital for Children.

Beresin and a core group from the 
MGH Department of Psychiatry form the DREAM team – Ellen Braaten, PhD, associate director; Tristan Gorrindo, MD, managing director; and Steven Schlozman, MD, associate director. Psychiatric disorders are more common than almost any disorder in medicine, and one in 
four people will be affected by mental illness during their lives, says Beresin. But despite 
that prevalence, the stigma of mental health remains widespread.


Beresin speaks in the Ether Dome.

The team recognized a lack of trustworthy, public information related to mental illness and wellness and created The Clay Center as a way to help increase awareness, promote resilience and combat public misconception. “What better place to provide a trusted resource for information than the MGH?” Beresin says. “All the public may see about mental illness is that it is associated with violence; they hear very little about resilience. We all face hardships, but not all of us know how to deal with them; or perhaps, more importantly, how to prevent them.”

On Sept. 24, MGH faculty, patients, local business owners, state officials and center donors Elizabeth Gail Hayden, and Landon and Lavinia Clay, gathered in the Ether Dome to celebrate the center’s official launch. “By empowering youths and training adults to recognize signs of mental illness, we can strengthen young people’s resilience and eradicate the social scar associated with mental illness,” said Landon Clay.

For more information about The Clay Center, visit



Read more articles from the 10/04/13 Hotline issue.


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