Keiki Talk: The Pandemic and Young Minds

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 • 9-10am
Virtual event; register below for link
Free, $5 suggested donation

Dr. Jamie Hanson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, will speak about how COVID-19 has affected young children’s mental health and social-emotional development, and how we can best support them. An expert on brain development and early life stress, Dr. Hanson will share some of his latest research and discuss what parents, advocates, and policymakers can do for young kids after a year of upheaval.

A recording of the event will be sent to all registered attendees.

About the Talk and Presenter

Continually clear is that the health and development of young children is profoundly influenced by environmental experiences, especially those early in life. With COVID-19 impacting so many parts of our society, it will be critical for parents, community-partners, policymakers, and all those concerned about the development of youth to consider how the pandemic is impacting children’s mental health and social-emotional development.

To those ends, this Keiki Talk will cover interconnected topics about brain development and experience, in service of fostering psychological well-being for youth in a post-pandemic world. The presenter, Dr. Jamie Hanson from the University of Pittsburgh, will first briefly discuss the importance of early childhood as a “sensitive” period for brain development.

Dr. Hanson will describe relevant research on how positive and negative experiences may impact brain architecture, and youth’s behavioral developmental trajectories. Dr. Hanson will then highlight notable interventions and public programs that have supported children, especially during early childhood. Such work suggests that investment in youth and families can improve social and emotional development, often with impacts across the lifespan.

Finally, Dr. Hanson will talk about the changing economic landscape of the United States and the growing economic precarity often facing families. Connecting these pieces, Dr. Hanson will field questions and discuss evidence-based strategies, as well as knowledge gaps for those working with youth and families.

About Jamie Hanson

Jamie Hanson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he combined information from the fields of child development, biology, education, and clinical psychology. After finishing his degree in Wisconsin, Jamie received additional postdoctoral training at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is interested in understanding how children and adolescents learn about their environment, how the brain circuitry involved with learning may be impacted by stressful experiences, and how these brain changes may confer risks for negative outcomes.

Jamie’s interest in learning was in no small part inspired by his mother, Helen Hanson. Helen was a Philadelphia public school teacher for over 40 years, working primarily with special education students in low-income communities. Dr. Hanson’s primary goal is to increase knowledge about the neurobiological effects of early life stress, with that hope that such information could aid in predicting and preventing stress-related, negative outcomes in education and mental health.

Dr. Hanson is a member of the ReadyNation Brain Science Speakers Bureau.

About Keiki Talks

Keiki Talks are Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network’s premier forum for community leaders to learn about issues affecting our keiki. Previous topics have included adverse childhood experiences, the economic benefits of childhood investment, and paid family leave.


Ryan Catalani • [email protected]


June 22, 2021 at 9am - 10am

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