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Center for Adolescent Health

Center for Adolescent Health Blog

Keyword: adolescents

As data shows that youth who identify as sexual minorities are significantly more likely to report being the victims of in-school or online bullying in national surveys, a new study that includes Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for Adolescent Health faculty says this may offer a path toward effective interventions and anti-bullying education.

Using cross-sectional data from 2015 and 2017, the study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “Electronic and School Bullying Victimization by Race/Ethnicity and Sexual Minority Status in a Nationally Representative Adolescent Sample,” found that gay, lesbian or bi-sexual youth were much more likely to report both online and in-school bully than their heterosexual peers, with Black and Latinx youth reporting less bullying than white adolescents.

The authors – Lindsey Webb, Laura K. Clary, Renee M. Johnson and Tamar Mendelson – conclude “[t]his may have implications for designing bullying prevention strategies that target sexual minority adolescents to reduce their risk for victimization both online and in school.”

Access the full study here.


 

Tamar Mendelson is the new co-director of the Center for Adolescent Health

Exciting change is underway at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health! Tamar Mendelson, PhD, recently became our Center’s Co-Director after a national search. She will assume the role of Center Director in October 2018. Dr. Mendelson has been faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Mental Health since 2006.

Mendelson is no stranger to the Center. She has collaborated with our faculty and staff on several research projects over the years, including Healthy Minds at Work, which addressed the many mental health issues faced by young people in Baltimore Youth Opportunity (YO) programs through mental health screenings, mental health education/training, psycho-educational activities, and comprehensive mental health services. Along with Center faculty member Kristin Mmari, Mendelson now leads the Risks to Adolescent Health workgroup for the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

The seeds of Mendelson’s future work began during her childhood in New York City. “The disparities were very evident,” she said. “From a young age, I was disturbed by the inequalities in our society and wanted to find a way to work to achieve greater equality.”

Mendelson completed her masters and doctoral training in clinical psychology at Duke University, followed by a clinical psychology internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. She was also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Mendelson’s internship at a large public hospital in San Francisco sparked her interest in the social determinants of health and population health more broadly. “I realized that a lot of my training had been focused on psychological factors within the individual. It really didn't address all of the stressors that affect people living in poverty and how those stressors impact wellbeing,” she explained.

Her time as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar introduced her to population health and eventually led her to the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Mendelson’s research focuses on preventing emotional and behavioral problems in urban youth and adolescents.

“The work I do now is public mental health research--thinking a lot more about populations and how to create evidence‑based interventions that can be integrated into systems that serve youth and families,” Mendelson said.

Mendelson has strong relationships with important stakeholders in Baltimore City, many of whom are also longtime partners of the Center. Building on the history of collaboration will guide the Center forward. “I’ve known Tamar since my early days at Hopkins,” said Center faculty member and associate professor Terri Powell, PhD. “She’s a thoughtful researcher and an incredibly hard worker. We’re lucky to have her,” added Powell.

As Tamar takes on the role of CAH Co-Director, we begin developing our applied research project for the next CDC Prevention Research Centers funding cycle for 2020-2024. We are incredibly appreciative of Dr. Philip Leaf, PhD, who will co-direct with Mendelson over the next year to ensure a smooth transition. Welcome to CAH, Tamar!

 

    autism

        The Autism Society estimates that about 1% of the World’s population has some form of autism and almost 4 MILLION people have some form of autism just in the US. Were you expecting that number to be in the millions? Probably not, we sure didn’t. Thirty-five percent of young adults with autism are unemployed and do not continue their education after high school. Adolescents with autism desire relationships, just like everyone else, but sometimes lack the social and communication skills required to make and maintain these relationships. Imagine if you lived a life constantly being judged by people you wished to have as friends. Sounds pretty terrible! One of the biggest struggles for someone with autism is learning how to cope in different environments especially when few are accepting of autism.

         There is no cure for autism, but many practitioners and researchers have dedicated their lives to teaching people with autism how to cope in certain situations that give them anxiety. For example, adapting to the environment can be a difficult task for adolescents with autism. Thus, researchers have developed ways to help youth with autism react differently to the environment through problem solving or emotion regulation. Learning to cope can be very helpful because these skills can be used across settings and enable them to disengage from problems when necessary. While some strategies exist, we realize that there is no cookie cutter model that will work for every young person with autism.

         Some people our age may have trouble knowing how to interact someone with forms of autism. No one likes to stick out of a crowd like a sore thumb. Some youth with autism struggle when it comes to taking the initiative to ask someone to hangout or be friends. We encourage people our age to be better brothers, sisters, friends, classmates and partners to adolescents with autism. Here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Start a conversation with another person with autism about something you both might like… It might make their day.
  2. Be patient.  It may take someone with autism a bit longer to feel comfortable, so it’s a good thing that being patient is key to a great friendship.
  3. Inform others about how to treat youth with autism… kindly, with dignity and respect just like you would treat anyone else!
  4.  Share things that have worked for you in our comments section!

April is Autism Awareness month, so please check out the links below to learn more about autism and neurological differences!

  1. Autism speaks: https://www.autismspeaks.org
  2. Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/wendy-klag-center-for-autism-and-developmental-disabilities/
  3. 10 Things Your Autistic Friend Wants You to Know (The Frisky): http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-03-20/10-things-your-autistic-friend-wants-you-to-know/

 

By: Augusta Worthington & Mary Davlin

Augusta Worthington and Mary Davlin attend Garrison Forest High School. As participants in the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program, they are working with and learning from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health.