Dr. Fortuna and Colleagues Awarded PCORI Grant to Test Web-Based Anxiety Treatment for Children

As reported in the Boston Herald, Dr. Lisa Fortuna (PI) and Dr. Donna Pincus (Co-PI) will lead a randomized clinical trial of the Cool Kids web-based anxiety intervention. The five-year PCORI-funded study “Kids Face Fears” will take place in Boston, Miami, Baltimore, and Seattle. Co-Investigators include Dr. Jonathan Comer at Florida International University, and Dr. Michelle Porche at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

Presentations at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in San Diego, May 2017

Dr. Lisa Fortuna will present on work with Latino/a patients as part of the symposium panel “Religion and Spirituality in Vulnerable Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Populations” on May 24th from 2pm-5pm: This symposium addresses religious/spiritual (R/S) aspects of youth and families deemed to be “vulnerable,” including those who are autistic, from a sexual minority, in foster care, or an immigrant to the U.S. Many faith communities now include autism and others with developmental disabilities in their work. The inherent interpersonal, social and cognitive deficits in autism challenge understandings of abstract religious thought and traditions. These are often addressed with many of the same techniques used in public school resource rooms and in behavioral programming. Congregations have focused on making the physical place and meeting space safe and obstacle free for the disabled and often shorten and simplify rituals and worship services as adaptations to impulsivity and short attention spans. Religious communities also serve as resources for caregivers, including spiritual, financial, transportation, food, shelter, respite care, or other needs. Psychiatrists can recognize R/S needs when expressed by their autistic patients and assist faith communities serving those with autism. R/S is important to sexual and gender minority (SGM) youth and their caregivers/families. Tension may arise between R/S beliefs and sexual/gender identities among youth and/or their caregivers. Research about the intersection of R/S with sexual orientation and gender identity concerns will be reviewed. Special attention will be directed toward clinical implications derived from the literature, as well as recent public health efforts to address health disparities among SGM youth in non-affirming faith communities. Current controversies, such as the use of conversion therapy, will be discussed in regard to clinical implications, legislative activity and efforts to ban such practices within the medical community. Issues related to R/S are important to foster youth, providing a framework for daily life as well as helping youth cope with issues particular to their world, including abuse and abandonment by authority figures who should have cared for them—all leading to difficulties trusting adults. These troubled relationships can be mirrored in the spiritual lives of these abused youth. The importance of R/S in diagnosis and ongoing treatment may not be recognized or emphasized by providers who treat this population. R/S is important to immigrant children and adolescents. Studies of Latino immigrant youth, PTSD and pastoral care will be discussed. The blending of hope and resilience that both practical theology and appropriate mental health care can contribute will be emphasized, as well as how R/S may be experienced by children in the face of adversity and in a sociocultural context. Closing discussion will emphasize common elements of R/S helpful in the assessment and treatment planning of these and other populations of vulnerable youth, their families and systems of care.

A poster will also be presented on “Addressing Treatment Needs for Dually Diagnosed Men in a Residential Recovery Program for Latinos” on Tuesday May 23rd from 10am-12pm.


Dr. Fortuna’s Best Practice Highlights for Working with Latino/a Patients

From the American Psychiatric Association Website: “Understanding a patient’s culture and background can help you in providing the highest quality of care. The APA Best Practice Highlights provide information on particular populations’ demographics, significant history, a few best practice, and disparities and stigma to help you contextualize your assessment and treatment. These resources are not meant to be a comprehensive practice guideline, but rather are designed to offer a brief overview to assist you in your day-to-day practice. We encourage you to check back for new and updated resources, and utilize the DSM-5® Handbook of the Cultural Formulation Interview to help account for the influence of culture in your clinical work to enhance the patient-clinician communication and improve outcomes.” You can access Dr. Lisa Fortuna’s video where she discusses best practices for working with Latina/o patients from this page.

Running for Team Kids for NYC Marathon 2016

I’ve decided to run the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon with Team for Kids and I am asking for your support of their inspiring mission. Team for Kids is a team of adult runners who raise funds for critical services provided by New York Road Runners Youth Programs. These programs combat childhood obesity and empower youth development via running and character-building programs across the country.IMG_7607

Making a donation is easy! You can click on this Donate Link to get to my secure fundraising site. You can also find information there about where to write a check, or how to get your company to match your gift! All contributions are tax-deductible.

Your giving helps New York Road Runners Youth Programs to:

  • Serve more than 200,000 students locally and nationally through free NYRR youth running programs, events, and resources, including more than 120,000 in New York City’s five boroughs.
  • Reach children of all fitness levels and athleticism, with a heightened focus on reaching out-of-shape and overweight kids with little or no athletic experience.
  • Prevent overweight or obese children from eventually suffering heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that lead to health-care costs in excess of $100 billion annually.

Whether you are a runner, have worked with children, or have kids yourself, I hope you will join me to further this great cause! You can link to my page here.

See you at the finish line!

Addictions to Rx pain medication in teens: What parents need to know and what they can do

From Dr. Fortuna’s regular blog on Addictionblog.org from May 19, 2016: “Narcotic painkiller addiction is currently diagnosed in teenagers…which brings the risk of cross-addiction to heroin. More on prevention programs and what parents can do here.”


Dr. Fortuna’s Presidential Symposium at the 2016 American Psychiatrict Association Meeting


Dr. Lisa Fortuna was Chair of the invited Presidential Symposium, “Translating the Evidence for the Next Generation: Addressing the Mental Health of Youth and Emerging Adults of Color,” at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Atlanta, GA, May 15, 2016. The interdisciplinary panel included Dr. Margarita Alegria and Dr. Kiara Alvarez from the Research Disparities Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as well as Dr. Michelle Porche and doctoral student Sarah Anais Mejia from Boston University Counseling Psychology and Applied Human Development program at the School of Education. The panelists reported on clinical and epidemiological research on trauma, mental health, substance abuse, educational outcomes, and clinical practice. AmericanPsychiatricAssociationAtlanta_051516_0025

In addition to synthesizing contributions of the panelists, Dr. Fortuna presented her research on immigrant youth and emerging adults, highlighting evidence-based treatment approaches including those described in her new manual, “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Adolescent PTSD and Addictions” co-authored with Zayda Vallejo.

Prescription opioid addiction, mental health illness and treatment for teens

From Dr. Fortuna’s regular blog on Addictionblog.org from February 8, 2016: “A featured article from Dr. Lisa R. Fortuna, MD, MPH, expert on teen addiction who helps outline mental health issues for parents. Here, she considers the research on the social and neuro-developmental factors related to teen substance use disorders and mental health, and translates that into everyday language and practical recommendations.”