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Two Faculty, Two Students to Open Women's Mental Health Conference

October 22, 2019

Two Yale Department of Psychiatry faculty and two students with diverse backgrounds in women’s mental health will speak at the first Women’s Mental Health Conference at Yale on October 25.

The four women – Chyrell Bellamy, PhD, Associate Professor Psychiatry; Ariadna Forray, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Kayla Isaacs, a student at Yale School of Medicine; and Casey Chu, a student at Yale School of Public Health – will deliver brief talks during the conference’s opening session at 9:00 am in Harkness Auditorium at Yale School of Medicine, 333 Cedar St.

The opening session and the following keynote address are free and open to the public. Eve Ensler, Tony Award-winning playwright and author of “The Vagina Monologues,” will deliver the keynote address at 10:15 am. in Harkness Auditorium.

“We want the opening session to be a place where multiple speakers with different interests and backgrounds in women’s mental health care share their stories and viewpoints,” said Sofia Noori, MD, MPH, a third-year Yale Department of Psychiatry resident and conference organizer. “We chose these four speakers because each of them is committed in their own way to advancing women’s mental health.”

Isaacs, who helped plan the conference, said she hopes the opening session speakers will set the tone for the rest of the event and the speakers and presenters who will follow. The conference will feature 17 sessions and workshops in the afternoon. Registration for those 50-minute sessions is sold out.

“I want to share with our audience why this conference is important to me because I believe that generating interest in women’s mental health will create even more opportunities for trainees and students like myself to explore this topic in medical school, residency, and beyond,” Isaacs said.

Chu helped organize the conference because of its multidisciplinary and communal nature. “No matter what someone's interest is, they are probably able to relate to the intersections we'll highlight at the conference in one way or another," she said. "I hope attendees will appreciate that everyone involved with this conference represents a network of advocates and supporters of women's mental health.”

Bellamy, a celebrated community organizer and researcher, echoed this sentiment. “We need each other’s skills, creativity, energy, and wisdom in order to advance research on women and non-binary people and mental health,” she said.

Bellamy plans to discuss her own journey as a Black queer academic and survivor and key supports that helped her succeed.

Forray, a nationally recognized expert on perinatal substance use, plans to highlight the sex and gender differences that affect mental health. “Women's mental health is multifactorial and determined by both biological and social factors. It is essential to have a holistic perspective when addressing women’s mental health, and hopefully that is what conference attendees will walk away with,” she said.

The conference is the nation’s first academic and trainee-led gathering focused on women’s mental health. It is dedicated toward improving the wellbeing of women through better training of future healthcare professionals. It will bring together students, researchers, advocates, and clinicians who will share knowledge about how to better care for women from a variety of backgrounds and gender expressions.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on October 22, 2019