Dean’s Seminar Series: The Rapid Decline in Adolescent Mental Health in the 21st Century: The Rapid Decline in Adolescent Mental Health in the 21st Century: Magnitude, Causes, and Public Health Implications

January 27, 2020 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Peterson Hall 1912/1913

Speaker: Katherine M. Keyes,  Ph.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Co-Director, Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program
Mailman School of Public Health,  Columbia University

Abstract: Recorded suicide among adolescent girls has tripled in the past decade, and suicide among adolescent boys had doubled. These increases underlie concomitant increases in hospitalized suicide attempts. Additionally, increases in three independent, national-representative survey data sources of US adolescents have documented unprecedented increases in suicidal thoughts and reported attempts, major depressive episodes, depressive symptoms, loneliness, and low self-esteem, with all increases occurring since 2012.  Across these data sources, increases are faster among girls than boys. The consistency of findings across data sources, outcomes, self-report and administrative records, indicates that these increases are likely not due to methodological artifact, requiring strong epidemiological studies that elucidate causes of the increases, reasons for gender differences, and identification of groups within gender that are at higher risk. Existing evidence has tested the hypothesis that use of digital technology underlies these increases, but to date the strongest evidence suggests a limited and nuanced role of new technologies in predicting depression and self-harm. Additional research has pointed to broader sociological trends in the experience of adolescence within a fractured political and precarious economic environment, indicating that research progress that is cross-disciplinary and engages a broad range of scholars will propel recommendations for intervention and prevention forward.

Bio: Katherine M. Keyes is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and Co-Director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program. Katherine’s research focuses on life course epidemiology with particular attention to psychiatric disorders, including examination of fetal origins of child and adult health, long-term outcomes of adverse childhood environments, and cross-generational cohort effects on substance use, mental health, and chronic disease.  She is particularly interested in the development of epidemiological theory to measure and elucidate the drivers of population health.  Dr. Keyes is an expert in methodological issues in age-period-cohort effect estimation, and her empirical work in age-period-cohort effect has examined a range of outcomes including obesity, perinatal outcomes, substance use disorders, and psychological distress.  She is the author of more than 170 peer-reviewed publications as well as two textbooks published by Oxford University Press with co-author Sandro Galea: “Epidemiology Matters: A New Introduction to Methodological Foundation” and “Population Health Science”.  By matter of background, Dr. Keyes has earned Ph.D. and M.P.H. degrees from Columbia University, and a B.A. and B.S. from the University of Minnesota.