The country’s leading depression research organization, Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF), today announced it will host a public symposium on Bullying and Mental Health, on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at the Paley Center for Media in mid-town Manhattan.

The event is part of an annual symposia series, ‘Next Generation Mental Health,’ which aims to educate the public about urgent mental health issues facing our nation’s youth.

“Children who have been bullied are six times more likely to develop depression and two times more likely to develop anxiety,” said HDRF Executive Director Louisa Benton, who will moderate the panel. She pointed to an alarming rise in depression rates in teens, and a 70% rise in youth suicide since 2006.

Actor and advocate Jeff Lima will participate in the discussion with a personal account of his own experience with extreme bullying while growing up in Spanish Harlem, NYC. All panelists will discuss bullying prevention and effective interventions.

The event will start at 5:30pm and consist of a 45-minute panel discussion, followed by a question and answer session with leading psychiatrists, anti-bullying experts and advocates. They will discuss issues relevant to bullying and victimization including immediate and long-term effects on health and quality of life.

HDRF is actively encouraging students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and any other interested parties to attend. Tickets can be secured here.


1.     Dr. Eric Nestler, MD, PhD: Dr. Nestler is the Director of the Friedman Brain Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The goal of Dr. Nestler’s research is to better understand the molecular mechanisms of addiction and depression. Dr. Nestler has studied the effects of bullying on mental health, showing that stress from bullying can causes lasting genetic and circuit changes in the brain’s mood centers.

2.     Dr. Angela Diaz, MD, PhD, MPH: Dr. Diaz is the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor in Adolescent Health, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine. Dr. Diaz is also the Director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, a unique program that provides high quality, comprehensive, integrated, interdisciplinary primary care, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, dental and health education services to teens-all for free to those without insurance. The Center has an emphasis on wellness and prevention.

3.     Jill Brown: Jill Brown is the President and Founder of Generation Text Online, a company whose mission is to teach programs that stop bullying and cyberbullying, and establish a safe, positive and respectful school climate. The architecture of the program works with superintendents, school administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, students and parents. Jill is also a mother of three children who are part of the online generation.

4.     Dr. Susan M. Swearer, PhD: Dr. Swearer is the Willa Cather Professor of Educational Psychology and a Professor of School Psychology at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She is the co- director of the Bullying Research Network and Director of the Empowerment Initiative. Dr. Swearer is also the Inaugural Chair of Born This Way Foundation’s Research Advisory Board. For more than a decade, Dr. Swearer has developed and implemented a data-based decision-making model for responding to bullying among school-aged youth and has conducted staff trainings in elementary, middle, and high schools, and higher education settings with the goal of helping to establish cost-effective and data-based strategies to reduce bullying behaviors.

5.     Jeff Lima: Jeff Lima is an actor and anti-bullying activist. He is known for his film roles in Half NelsonMr. Popper’s Penguins and Cop Out. He is currently a re-occurring guest star on NBC’s Chicago Fire. Lima is a founding member of the Achievement Lab, an after school and summer program offering tutoring, sports and performing arts to at-risk youth in the Bronx.

6.     Emily Marrero: Emily is currently a freshman at SUNY Morrisville and she had previously attended Theatre Arts Production Company (TAPCo.) Emily is due to enter the Nursing Program at SUNY Morrisville and is a graduate of the Police Athletic League of New York City. Emily will speak to her own personal experiences with bullying and also her observations of bullying in the bystander role.


Founded in 2006, HDRF is today the leading non-profit exclusively dedicated to advancing the understanding and treatment of depression. The mission of HDRF is two-fold:  1) to spur the most innovative neuroscience research into the physical causes, prevention and treatment of depression, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and suicide; and 2) to increase the public’s understanding of depression and end the stigma and shame associated with getting help.  Today, HDRF is home to the acclaimed Depression Task Force—a collaboration of seven leading scientists from different research institutions who are pooling data and expertise to accelerate discovery. For more information, visit: