Research seminar: February 10, 2023

Depression and suicide in adolescents: Reimagining how we assess and respond to risk

February 10, 2023

Hannah Lawrence, PhD discusses how the way we imagine ourselves and the world impacts our mental health. She presents new research on how distressing mental imagery can increase adolescents' risk for depression and suicide. She also discusses ways to foster positive or helpful mental imagery in treatment to reduce this risk.

Hannah Lawrence, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Psychological Science
College of Liberal Arts
Oregon State University

Lawrence's program of research aims to (1) understand the role of maladaptive mental imagery in depression, self-harm, and suicide and (2) translate these findings, testing whether integrating mental imagery-based intervention skills improves outcomes.

Specifically, she integrates across multiple units of analysis (self-report, experimental tasks, psychophysiology, ecological momentary assessment/interventions) to explain why negative or unhelpful mental imagery is associated with increased risk for depression, self-harm, and suicide and how positive or helpful mental imagery can be incorporated in interventions for mood disorders to enhance treatment effects.

She has a particular interest in adolescence given that mental imagery abilities peak and rates of mood disorders surge during this developmental period. In pursuing these aims, she works to center the perspectives of adolescents with lived experience and to develop interventions that can be scaled to reach the many adolescents who need mental health serves but who do not have access.