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!