Past Press Releases

Wellesley College research scientist to discuss internet-based approach to depression prevention

Flyer for March 8 event: Preventing Youth Depression in a Digital Age: An Internet Based Approach.


As many as 13–20 percent of adolescents in the U.S. and other developed countries experience minor or major depressive episodes each year, according to Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). To address this problem, Gladstone developed a unique intervention, which she will discuss during the presentation, “Preventing Youth Depression in a Digital Age: An Internet-Based Approach,” on Thursday, March 8, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Cheever House, 828 Washington St, Wellesley. This program is part of the spring Lunchtime Seminar Series hosted by WCW, a program of Wellesley College. DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN POSTPONED. IT WILL BE RESCHEDULED FOR MAY 10.

Adolescents who experience minor or major depressive episodes have a higher incidence of medical illness and social adjustment challenges than those without depressive illness. They are also at risk for suicide and recurrent depressive episodes. The public health burden of depression is made worse by relapsing depressive disorders that recur every five to seven years in 80 percent of individuals, with even closer intervals in adolescence.

“Given the substantial prevalence of adolescent depressive disorders, associated functional impairments, the risk of unhealthy behaviors, and life-long illness, it is vital that we develop, evaluate, and disseminate preventative programs for adolescent depression,” said Dr. Gladstone.

To meet this need, Dr. Gladstone and her team developed and evaluated a self-guided, internet-based primary care intervention, CATCH-IT, to target adolescents (ages 13-19) at risk for depressive illness. CATCH-IT incorporates character stories and graphic elements to meet current social media standards and combines therapeutic modalities (e.g., cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal interventions) in an ecological model. Adolescents at risk for depression in the Chicago and Boston areas were assigned randomly to the CATCH-IT intervention or to a health education control and were assessed over time for depressive symptoms, depressive episodes, and other functional outcomes.

During this seminar, Dr. Gladstone will present outcome data from this federally-funded trial that suggests CATCH-IT may be efficacious in preventing depressive episodes in primary care for adolescents and parents willing to engage the program at a modest level; this intervention may be particularly beneficial for adolescents with elevated levels of depressive symptoms.

Dr. Gladstone is an associate director and senior research scientist at WCW as well as the inaugural director of the Robert S. and Grace W. Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives, which focus on research and evaluation designed to prevent the onset of mental health concerns in children and adolescents. Dr. Gladstone is also an assistant in psychology at Boston Children’s Hospital, an instructor at Harvard Medical School, and a research scientist at Judge Baker Children’s Center. For the past 20 years, she has focused her research on the development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of preventive interventions targeting depression in children and families.

The Lunchtime Seminar Series at WCW is free and open to the public. Most programs are held Thursdays, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. at the Centers’ Cheever House location (828 Washington St, Wellesley), and parking is available on site. Guests are invited to bring their lunches; WCW will provide tea and coffee. For accessibility questions, contact Disability Services at Wellesley College at or call 781.283.2434. The Lunchtime Seminar Series schedule is subject to change. To confirm program lineup and location, call 781.283.2500 or visit

For those who are unable to attend in person, the program will be streamed live on the Wellesley Centers for Women Facebook page (@wcwonline). Recordings from past seminars are posted online at

The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) is the largest academic, women-and gender-focused, social-change-driven, research-and-action institute in the United States, located at Wellesley College. Scholars at WCW advance gender equality, social justice, and human wellbeing through high-quality research, theory, and action programs. Areas of work include: Education, Economic Security, Mental Health, Youth and Adolescent Development, and Gender-Based Violence.

February 19, 2018

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