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William Beardslee, M.D.

Dr. William Beardslee directs the Baer Prevention Initiatives at Boston Children's Hospital, is Senior Research Scientist at the Judge Baker Children’s Center, and the Gardner-Monks Professor of Child Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Beardslee's long-standing research interest has centered on the development of children at risk because of parental adversities such as mental illness or poverty. His work is focused on the ways in which self- and shared understanding help individuals and families cope with adversity. His early work described civil rights workers and how they endured and significantly changed the South. He studied resilience in survivors of cancer and in children of depressed parents. This led to the development of effective public health interventions for families facing depression, and a ten year randomized trial that showed they were safe and led to lasting gains. This received high ratings in the National Registry of Effective Programs and is being disseminated widely in Finland, Norway, Costa Rica, Australia and the United States. He has worked extensively with the COPMI Initiative in Australia.

In this country, Dr. Beardslee and his colleagues adapted the principles in a teacher training and empowerment program for use in Head Start and Early Head Start called Family Connections. He directs the Boston site of a multisite study on the prevention of depression in adolescents using Greg Clarke’s cognitive-behavioral model. This work has demonstrated sustained preventive effects for more than 32 months after enrollment. He is the author of over 200 scientific articles and two books: The Way Out Must Lead In: Life Histories in the Civil Rights Movement and Out of the Darkened Room.

Dr. Beardslee has received numerous awards including the Blanche F. Ittleson Award of the American Psychiatric Association for outstanding published research contributing to the mental health of children, the Catcher in the Rye Award for Advocacy of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Human Rights Award from the Department of Mental Health of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Emory University and the Community, Culture, and Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research and in 2012, was awarded the Judge Baker Children’s Center World of Children Award.

Dr. Beardslee is on the Board of the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Task Force, Mental Health America, and Families for Depression Awareness. He served on two Institute of Medicine committees, one on the prevention of mental disorders, the other on exploring the impacts of parental depression.