"The JCCAP Future Directions Forum gives scientists-in-training the tools they need to become strategic, successful scientists."
Over the last 50 years, scientists who study children’s mental health have made enormous contributions to society. They produced accurate, reliable diagnostic tools, allowing clinicians to identify children in need of care. Our scientists developed effective treatments, allowing children a chance to lead healthy lives. Now, we need a new generation of scientists to solve society’s most pressing mental health problems. For instance, although some children benefit from receiving mental health treatments, roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of all those treated receive little-to-no benefits. Why do these problems persist? A key issue involves our poor understanding of the factors that cause children to develop mental health concerns. As a result, we have a lot to learn about why mental health treatments “work,” and for whom these treatments work best.
Right now, my colleagues and I are training a new generation of scientists to devote their careers to improving children’s mental health. However, this new generation of scientists comes from an increasingly diverse talent pool. These scientists will come from Psychology, Education, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health, Public Policy, Neuroscience, Nursing, and Social Work, among other disciplines. We need this next generation of scientists to learn to talk to each other, to build bridges among their disciplines, and work together to improve children’s lives. To accomplish these goals, they need tools beyond the “book smarts” they acquire in the classroom. These scientists-in-training need the “street smarts” to succeed in science. Few of them take a class in writing great journal articles, communicating ideas during a job interview, or writing successful grant proposals to fund their research. These scientists-in-training need these tools to succeed but do not have a venue to acquire these tools. We launched the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology's (JCCAP) Future Directions Forum to give scientists-in-training such a venue.
The Forum devotes a full day to delivering interactive professional development workshops that give attendees the tools they need to become strategic, successful scientists. And we do more: The Forum is a chance for the field to think about the future of science in children's mental health. Permit me to explain. As Editor of JCCAP I commission invited articles called Future Directions. Through these articles, leaders in children’s mental health write about the “next steps” in their area of expertise. These regularly invited articles seek to unite affiliated disciplines in children’s mental health. As such, the Forum also showcases groundbreaking work from the authors of these Future Directions articles, and each year I invite four of these authors to come to the Forum and give addresses about their work. In tandem with these invited addresses, we raise public awareness of the “best and brightest” of the scientists-in-training who are devoting the start of their careers to doing work in in the areas covered by the Future Directions articles. For a complete description of the Forum, a copy of the program book from our inaugural 2017 Forum, and links to our social media pages, please visit our Wikiversity site: https://en.m.wikiversity.org/wiki/JCCAP_FDF.
--Andres De Los Reyes, Ph.D. Editor, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology