Professor Marie WalkerPsychological Science Department Faculty
Posted on November 22nd, 2022 by

“Mental health and development was a long-discussed choice for the subject of the 2022 Nobel Conference. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Walker knew the topic had to confront today’s mental health crisis in adolescents and young people.”

“I watched my students’ lives turn upside-down,” she remembers. “Then George Floyd was murdered. I was thinking a lot about the 17-year-old [Darnella Frazier] who filmed him dying.” Walker and Nobel Conference co-chair, professor Angelique Dwyer, wanted the Nobel Conference to be a platform to present cutting-edge research on the mental health experiences of marginalized groups.

“We really wanted to be intentional about bringing in scholars who have perspectives that haven’t been given enough emphasis,” Walker says. “Our panelists are the top up-and-coming researchers on how health inequity affects specific communities.”

Walker is excited about all of the speakers invited to present, which span academic disciplines. “I think it’s a topic that anyone can relate to, in a way that ties into their own lives and what they’re seeing in the news,” she says. “In this crisis, it’s essential to acknowledge all experiences and not just say, ‘That’s tough.’ It’s essential to a rm that many experiences are tougher than tough.”

She’s also proud of her students’ contributions to the Conference. For a class project, Walker asked her students to research new areas in mental health and present on what factors of the mental health crisis they thought should be covered at Nobel Conference. Her students overwhelmingly reported social media, identity, and technology as essential topics.

Walker has spent much of her academic career measuring the effect of of mental health on cognitive processing and identity. She hopes that attendees will take away a clear picture of the mental health crisis and the solutions experts are presenting.

“Most of all, I know this is important because my students are telling me this is important. It’s their lived experience.”


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