The Metro Manhattan Chapter of The Links, Inc., with support of Harlem Hospital and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, co-hosted a forum in response to the emerging teen depression crisis by providing a safe space for teens and their families to engage on the issue. The forum, “More Than Words—The Impact of Stress, Adversity and Trauma on Teen Well-Being,” took place Thursdayat the Medical Board Room at the Harlem Hospital Center. Participating specialists and experts included Dr. Aaron Reliford, medical director, Outpatient Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Harlem Hospital Center; Dr. Lillian Reynolds, district liaison for homeless teens, Mount Vernon School System; Dr. Alberta Springer, teen psychologist and LIU professor; Rowland Boateng, senior director, Harlem Children’s Zone Social Services; and Dimonique Johnson, president, National Action Network Youth Council and ThriveNYC representative.

One in five teens experience either a major depressive episode or sustained emotional stressors from adverse childhood events, personal trauma or psycho-social factors that lead to depression. In New York State, 64.3 percent of young people in need of mental health support do not access it. This disparity in care can be particularly acute for Black and Hispanic youth. The current public focus on teen depression’s rise and impact on schools, communities and families is critical to raising awareness about predictors of depression and appropriate care. During National Stress Awareness Month, “More Than Words” seeks to remove the stigma and information gaps associated with depression by providing a safe space for engagement and learning about teen depression.

The forum’s primary goals were to promote a “speak-up” mindset among teens and informed alertness within their care networks about depression. Panelists will provide clinical insights about the symptoms of depression, its health risks and strategic interventions that are anchored in real-life case studies and observations. In turn, it is hoped that attendees leave equipped to recognize, discuss and proactively respond to depression symptoms in themselves, peers or family members. For teens whose voices have not yet been heard on this issue, we believe that this forum will provide a valuable platform.

The Metro-Manhattan Chapter of The Links, Inc., chartered April 23, 1988, is part of a national nonprofit, charitable organization of African-American women who unite in service to help transform and substantially influence the quality of life for children and families in the village of Harlem by leveraging their collective volunteerism, relationships and philanthropic mission.

The Links, Inc. is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of 15,000 professional women of color in 285 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations for influential and community-minded women. Its distinguished members include former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.