NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania’s annual Child, Adolescent, and Transition Age Youth Mental Health Conference took place on Friday, February 2, 2024, at The Westin Pittsburgh. This event is one of the only conferences in the country specializing in youth mental health. It’s geared toward parents and caregivers, mental health professionals, educators, and students.
This year’s conference, Building Young Minds: Achieving a Healthy Self-Image in Youth, addressed how self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth factor into a young person’s mental health. The event featured keynote presentations, workshop sessions, and an exhibitor hall.
“They’re All Going to Find Out I’m a Fraud!” Combatting Impostor Syndrome in Kids and Teens
Matthew Zakreski, PsyD
Co-Founder, The Neurodiversity Collective
Impostor Syndrome is a psychological pattern where a person doubts their fitness, devalues their accomplishments, and fears being “discovered to be fraud.” It is a common pattern in kids and teens and can be intensely dysregulating and unpleasant. Impostor Syndrome is created by a maladaptive pattern of cognition and social comparison that can have negative impacts on academic performance, social skills, activity engagement, and self-esteem. This keynote presentation will define Impostor Syndrome, explore some symptoms of it both internally and externally, and give techniques on how to blunt its impact. Participants will be encouraged to learn how to check their thinking, practice self-compassion, and give themselves credit for the work that they have already done while appreciating the work that is left to do.
“The Image I See: Self-Esteem, Body Image, and Youth Mental Health”
Samantha DeCaro, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist; Director of Clinical Outreach and Education, The Renfrew Center
- Jennifer Kirk, EdD, Counseling Curriculum Leader, Upper St. Clair School District
- Sara Stock Mayo, Parent Advocate
- Cailey Crusemire, MS, CPS, Education & Support Group Coordinator, NAMI Chester County PA
During adolescence, as bodies are changing, youth become increasingly more aware of how they appear to themselves and others. Their body image can play an important role in their self-esteem, self-worth, and overall mental health. It can also be linked to eating disorders. According to statistics compiled by ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders):
- 46% of 9–11-year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
- 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.
- In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.
During this conversation, a panel of experts will discuss healthy versus unhealthy body image, the connection between eating disorders and mental well-being, and the impact of outside forces such as parents, friends, educators, and social media on body image.
Workshop Session One
- Trying to Carry Water in a Colander: Working on Executive Functioning Skills
- Three Steps to Improve Your Relationship with Today’s Youth
- Lean on Me: Finding Support During Times of Grief and Loss
- “My Different Colored Days,” A Children’s Book About Feelings and How We Care for Them
- Navigating Social Media: Understanding its Impact on Pre-teen and Teen Behavior
- Partnering for Student Mental Health Success
Workshop Session Two
- Triple Trouble: Exploring the Intersection of Social Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders
- Restoring Hope: Understanding and Healing the Cycle of Violence, Trauma, and Inequity.
- Rewiring the Brain Through Mindfulness-Based Interventions
- Supporting Family Caregivers and Educators to Navigate Difficult Conversations with Adolescents Experiencing Early Psychosis
- Building Connections, Confidence, and Competence for Youth Through the Adventure-Based Process
- Mentorship and Youth Resilience: A look at Effective Mentoring and How it Positively Impacts Youth
2024 Youth Mental Health Leadership Award
Congratulations to Grace Lyons, a student from the Abington School District in Montgomery County, for being the recipient of NAMI Keystone Pennsylvania’s 2024 Youth Mental Health Leadership Award. The award recognizes the passion and courage of young leaders, ages 13-21, who are committed to fighting the stigma of mental health conditions, providing a safe community for peers to share their own mental health experiences, and empowering peers through education.
Young people from across the state submitted essays for the contest. All submissions were on display at the conference. Grace attended the event, read her essay aloud, and accepted her award and $1,000 scholarship.