The Pandemic and Kids' Mental Health
A Message From Jeanne Blake
The idea for The Pandemic and Kids’ Mental Health emerged early in the pandemic. As an honorary trustee at McLean Hospital, Harvard’s largest psychiatric teaching hospital, I heard about a surge in demand for mental health treatment, notably among children. Meanwhile, my clients in executive coaching sessions lamented the growing stress of juggling work and family responsibilities during the pandemic.
I felt compelled to help. So I brushed off my skills as a former medical journalist and created The Pandemic and Kids’ Mental Health—three age-segmented videos to help caring adults build resilience in children during and after the pandemic. Each video features interviews with kids and parents candidly describing challenges they face—and strategies that help them cope. Our advisor
Dr. Paula K. Rauch and her colleagues at McLean Hospital and Mass General Hospital offer practical guidance in each video.
The core idea is to prompt open communication about these many months of disruption, uncertainty and isolation. When children can talk about their pandemic experiences—good and bad—they build resilience and gain confidence in their ability to cope with other challenges. “When facing future tough times,” Dr. Rauch says, “they’ll remember, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve done this before. I can do this.’”
The strategies we offer for starting important conversations will help you talk with children and adolescents about other stressors—the War in Ukraine, deeply disturbing mass shootings, looming climate change, and the inevitable challenges to come.
We know our program works. Initially we offered it on a subscription basis to a select group of companies and schools. It was featured in employee coffee sessions, Lunch and Learn sessions, and other group settings. Emails from parents told us how they applied the guidance they learned, with positive results. “This is the first time I really understood what my kids have gone through,” one mom wrote. Another watched our Teen video with her son who surprised her by saying, “Finally, someone knows how I feel.” Their communication has improved ever since.
When the Omicron variant arrived, I heard a new level of despair in the voices of parents, leaders, educators, and children. So, we decided to update our program and make it widely available without cost.
We hope you gain insight, guidance, and a sense of optimism from our videos. You'll also find interviews with some of the kids and parents 18-20 months later. Accompanying downloadable print materials, including Tips and Strategies for Building Resilience and the Conversation Guide, offer additional insight into child development and the power of communication. And Quick Takes are brief interviews we post occasionally about emerging topics.
Thanks for your interest.
Creator, The Pandemic and Kids' Mental Health
CEO, Blake Works
Jeanne Blake is an executive leadership and communication coach, author, award-winning science and medical television journalist and founder of Blake Works. Jeanne has appeared on Oprah, the Today Show, CNN, and been featured in The Boston Globe and on NPR and Bloomberg Radio.
Jeanne is a trusted advisor to senior level executives seeking to enhance their leadership and communication skills. Her clients gain the confidence to motivate their teams to drive success. With Jeanne’s guidance, leaders strengthen skills to clearly communicate vision and strategy to all stakeholders. While she works with leaders across all industries, the depth of Jeanne’s experience in science and medicine distinguishes her communication expertise. Of note is Jeanne’s skilled approach to coaching clients for whom English is a second language.
Keynote Speaker and Moderator
Jeanne is a featured speaker at corporate offsite events. As a creator and facilitator of professional development seminars and offsites, her deft interviewing skills and command of complex information ensure an engaged audience.
Jeanne has established a record of firsts in TV journalism.
The first medical and science beat at CBS affiliate WBZ-TV, Boston.
The first co-host of the award-winning nightly program Chronicle at ABC affiliate WCVB-TV, Boston.
The first journalist to report on the case of the missing and murdered children in Atlanta, at CBS affiliate WAGA-TV, Atlanta, receiving national recognition.
The first medical beat at ABC affiliate KMSP-TV, Minneapolis.
After a successful career in commercial television, Jeanne founded Blake Works and Family Health Productions in 1991. Her companies produced and distributed the award-winning library of multimedia Words Can Work products to guide communities worldwide in talking about the public and mental health challenges kids face growing up.
Awards and Recognition
As one of the first reporters in the country to report on HIV/AIDS, Jeanne earned the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award.
Americans for Democratic Action honored Jeanne for her “outstanding leadership in the field of healthcare.”
Jeanne is an Honorary Trustee of McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School’s largest psychiatric teaching hospital, and is an affiliated faculty member at Harvard Medical School’s Division on Addiction. Jeanne served as a member of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls and was a Kaiser Media Fellow in Health. She co-founded the Perfect Storm Foundation with author Sebastian Junger. Jeanne facilitated a series of NFL-sponsored Town Hall meetings on concussions, which were co-sponsored by The Satcher Health Leadership Institute, founded by former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D.
Jeanne’s book Risky Times: How to be AIDS-Smart and Stay Healthy (Workman) was featured on Oprah and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. A quarter million copies are in print in English, Spanish and Japanese. Jeanne contributed to AIDS: Prevention Through Education: A World View (Oxford Press). She’s also author of the popular series of Words Can Work e-books, addressing youth and public health issues. Jeanne is the creator and executive producer of The Pandemic and Kids' Mental Health, which is designed to guide parents and other caring adults in fostering resilience and supporting children during and after the pandemic.
Jeanne lives in Gloucester, MA, and New York City. She enjoys photography and distance swimming.
Paula K. Rauch, MD
Paula K. Rauch, MD is a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and the founding director of the hospital’s Marjorie E. Korff PACT Program (Parenting At a Challenging Time). She is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child When a Parent is Sick. Dr. Rauch is Blake Works’ advisor to The Pandemic and Kids’ Mental Health.
Archana Basu, PhD
Archana Basu, PhD is a clinical psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a research scientist at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. She is an Instructor at Harvard Medical School.
Daniel P. Dickstein, MD, FAAP
Daniel P. Dickstein, MD, FAAP, is a psychiatrist and pediatrician. He is director of the PediMIND Program at McLean Hospital, Harvard’s largest psychiatric teaching hospital. He is a Professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Jonathan Jenkins, PsyD
Jonathan Jenkins, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist and certified mental performance consultant at Massachusetts General Hospital. He Co-Chairs the Department of Psychiatry Anti-Racism Task Force and is also the hospital’s Assistant Director of Psychology Training. He is Part-Time Instructor at Harvard Medical School and author of Wednesday Afternoons with Dr. J.