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MAY 2022

The White House Hosts Mental Health Virtual Event: The Science Behind the National Mental Health Crisis

Thursday, May 19, 2:30 – 3:00pm EDT

Following President Biden’s recent proclamation designating May as Mental Health Awareness Month, and the release in March of the National Mental Health Strategy, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), in collaboration with relevant agencies, today announced it will establish cross-agency research priorities for mental health with broader coordinating efforts on brain health. The scope of this effort – part of President Biden’s Unity Agenda – will be informed by and build on ongoing and established investments and efforts, such the National Research Action Plan that focuses on the causes and mechanisms underlying posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and related conditions; the BRAIN Initiative aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain; and ONDCP’s Federal Recovery Research Agenda that is focused on recovery from substance use. For those struggling with mental health conditions, research provides the opportunity to improve how to prevent, diagnose, treat, and destigmatize these disorders.

The OSTP commitment will be accompanied by a series of virtual events, which will explore the science of the biological and behavioral basis of psychological distress and mental health challenges as well as the latest preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic options being developed to improve the quality of life for millions of Americans suffering from psychological and psychiatric conditions. The first event in the series is dedicated to the increasingly urgent issue of adolescent mental health.  

According to the CDC, there has been a 44 percent increase in youth suicidality from 2009 to 2019, with approximately one in six high school students reportedly making a suicide plan in the past year. It is hypothesized that a combination of changes in brain development – accelerating neurological transitions in part due to environmental exposure and nutrition – with the advent of social media and smartphones has created dire conditions that could be having a negative effect on youth mental health, potentially exacerbated by the pandemic. In December 2021, the Surgeon General issued an Advisory, “Protecting Youth Mental Health,” to call public attention to this pressing public health issue.

Open to Members of Press and Public: “The Neuroscience Behind the Youth Mental Health Crisis

WHAT: The White House will host a series of virtual conversations to highlight promising areas of current research and understand what is still needed to address the Nation’s deepening mental health crisis. This inaugural event features federal scientific thought leaders who will give insight into the contributing factors behind the youth mental health crisis and what can be done to address mental health challenges now and in the future.


  • Dr. Carrie D. Wolinetz is the Deputy Director for Health & Life Sciences at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In this role she helps advance priority presidential efforts in the health and life sciences as part of OSTP’s mission to maximize the benefits of science and technology to advance health, prosperity, security, environmental quality, and justice for all Americans.
  • Dr. Shelli Avenevoli is the Deputy Director for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH is the lead federal agency for research on mental illnesses, and seeks to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
  • Dr. Wilson M. Compton serves as the Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health. NIDA’s mission is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health. NIDA is also the lead NIH Institute for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health ever conducted in the United States.

WHERE: The Neuroscience Behind the Youth Mental Health Crisis event will be conducted virtually. To register for the event, please visit:

CONTACT: For press inquiries related to this event or OSTP’s work on mental health, please email

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Information on past events is available here.

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