Zzz and Teens: How to improve teen sleep habits & mental health

– Wednesday 15 February 2023

Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging at the best of times. For teenagers, it is a time in their life when a perfect storm of factors come together and can contribute to sleep disturbances. Sleep is essential for several important functions, from a physical need for our bodies to rest to the consolidation of memories. Still, its link to optimal mental health in teens can often be overlooked.

Half of all mental illnesses start during early high school by 14 years. At this critical stage of development, 40% of teens will experience significant sleep problems, which can heighten their risk of developing anxiety or depression in the future. By addressing ways to get high-quality sleep, we set the foundations to promote emotional, social and physical well-being and academic performance, now and in the future.

In this webinar presentation, co-hosted with Black Dog Institute parents and carers will be provided with several strategies they can implement at home to support their teens in setting up healthy sleep habits. For teens experiencing many difficulties sleeping, a range of evidence-based approaches are available, which will be covered in this presentation.

Natalie Walker

President, P&C Federation NSW

Natalie Walker is the Far West Councillor & elected President of P&C Federation NSW. She resides in Forbes, Central West NSW, with her husband and two children who attend Forbes High School. Natalie is also an active member of Forbes High School P&C Association, currently in the role of Secretary.

As a passionate advocate for (and product of) public education, Natalie is deeply committed through her professional and volunteer work to ensuring all children and young people get the best start in life. Based in NSW, this means her effort is focussed on strengthening the foundations of key organisations – and particularly P&C Federation NSW – as valuable stakeholders, partners and contributors to NSW public schools and the system they operate in.

Aliza Werner-Seidler

Associate Professor & Head of Population Mental Health, Black Dog Institute

Associate Prof. Werner-Seidler is an NHMRC Emerging Leader Fellow and Clinical Psychologist.

Her research interests include the prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety with a focus on adolescents and young adults, the cognitive mechanisms that underlie common mental disorders, the use of digital approaches to improve the reach and uptake of psychological interventions, and the role of poor sleep in the development of mental illness. Her work in the sleep field examines the value of targeting sleep in young people as a way to prevent the onset of common mental health problems including depression, anxiety and suicidality.

Associate Prof. Werner-Seidler is currently co-leading the Future Proofing Study – the largest digital depression prevention trial looking at how mental health apps can be used by school students to prevent the onset of mental illness. She completed her PhD at UNSW in 2012 and post-doctoral training at Cambridge University until 2014. She then commenced her role at the Black Dog Institute.

Kris Kafer

Clinical Psychologist, Facilitator and Senior Psychology Content Developer (Resource Development Team), Black Dog Institute

Kris has worked with the BDI for over 10 years. Over the last few years, she has been delighted to have the opportunity to consult with and build strong collaborative working relationships with State and catholic schools to produce practical, evidence-based resources to support school counsellors, wellbeing teams and primary school teachers.

The suicide prevention resources for NSW DOE school counselling service received recognition with a Mental Health Service Award in 2021 and the WINC. Knowledge Translation Award in 2018. Kris has worked clinically across her 25-year career in the public and private health sectors. She is a Clinical Senior Lecturer with the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Newcastle.