Make Rheum for Mental Health in Pediatric Rheumatology

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There is a significant prevalence of mental health disorders among pediatric patients with rheumatic disease, increasing the risk for adverse outcomes not just in mental health, but also the underlying rheumatic condition. Pediatric rheumatologists, along with mental health professionals, are positioned to provide mental health screening and interventions for this patient population; however, it has been observed that there are significant gaps in the area of mental health in pediatric rheumatology.

In this episode, we’re joined by pediatric rheumatologists Tamar Rubinstein, MD, MS and Andrea Knight, MD, MS, and pediatric psychologist Natoshia Cunningham, PhD, who will be discussing the importance of addressing mental health in the pediatric rheumatology population.

Andrea Knight, MD, MS, is a pediatric rheumatologist at the SickKids, associate scientist at the SickKids Research Institute Neuroscience and Mental Health Program, and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto. She obtained her medical degree from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York, and completed her pediatric training at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She also has a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr Knight’s research program focuses on mental health in youth with childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (cSLE). She has investigated the burden of psychiatric morbidity as well as strategies to improve comprehensive care for youth with cSLE and other rheumatologic diseases. She is also investigating the impact of inflammatory diseases, such as lupus, on brain structure, function, and development.

Dr Knight is the current vice chair of the lupus section for the Childhood Arthritis & Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA), and she leads a research workgroup for mental health in CARRA to investigate strategies for improving mental health and the overall care of youth with cSLE and other rheumatologic diseases.

Natoshia R. Cunningham, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Michigan State University and is a licensed pediatric psychologist. Dr Cunningham’s current research focuses on improving psychologic care in youth with rheumatologic conditions. She is currently leading a multisite study funded by CARRA/Arthritis Foundation to test a telehealth application of a tailored cognitive behavioral intervention to manage fatigue, mood, and pain symptoms in adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cSLE. Dr Cunningham also currently serves as the co-chair of the Mental Health Workgroup of the CARRA organization.

Tamar Rubinstein, MD, MS, is an assistant professor of pediatric rheumatology at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, New York. Her research focuses on improving mental health and SLE disease outcomes in youth and has been funded by the Lupus Foundation of America and CARRA/ Arthritis Foundation. She is a recipient of the NIH Pediatric Research Loan Repayment Award. Dr Rubinstein is a co-leader of the CARRA Mental Health Workgroup and serves on the board of directors for the ACR and the Medical-Scientific Advisory Committee for the Lupus Foundation of America.