About the COVID-19 Mental Health Forum Series

A message from Dr. Karestan Koenen:

The forum started organically, from an email I sent to my research group, on March 11, 2020, the day the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, suggesting that we get together to talk about the mental health effects of this emerging crisis. I had been hearing from my student, Dr. Hao Yoa, a psychiatrist from China, about the mental health consequences there. Over 100 people joined that initial conversation, and from that interest the Mental Health Forums were born. We realized that there was a lot known about how to support mental health during this time and we wanted to bring that knowledge to the public. Thank you for joining us in this journey.

To return to our forum recordings and resources click here.

Our team members 

Amantia Ametaj, PhD
Research Fellow, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Dr. Amantia Ametaj is a post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work focuses on global mental health and increasing access to psychological treatments in low- and middle-income countries.

Archana Basu, PhD
Research Scientist, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Psychologist and Instructor, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Using a developmental life course approach, Dr. Archana Basu conducts research (1) to understand how trauma characteristics (e.g., type and chronicity of trauma) and protective factors (e.g., parenting, sleep) shape children’s health trajectories, and (2) common mechanisms (e.g., stress or immune system functioning) underlying both mental and physical health outcomes. Finally, Dr. Basu’s research aims to inform family-based intervention programs, particularly in pregnancy and early childhood, to promote resilience in the context of trauma or adversity.

Karmel Choi, PhD
Clinical and Research Fellow, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Massachusetts General Hospital. Research Advisor, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness.
Dr. Karmel Choi is a Clinical and Research Fellow in the Psychiatric & Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her work focuses on the interplay of genetic and environmental factors that influence resilience and stress-related disorders (e.g., depression) across the life course, using methods from statistical genetics, data science, and developmental epidemiology.

Christy A. Denckla, PhD
Research Associate, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Dr. Christy Denckla is a Research Associate and clinical psychologist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she is supported by an early career K23 award from NIMH. Her work aims to understand how adversity affects mental health and well-being across the lifespan, with a particular focus on bereavement.

Bizu Gelaye, PhD
Assistant Professor,  Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Gelaye is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Gelaye’s research includes a focus on understanding neuropsychiatric disorders in epidemiologic studies among pregnant and post-partum women and integrating biological and molecular markers into clinical and population-based studies to identify factors contributing to resilience and risk of neuropsychiatric disorders.


Shaili Jha, PhD
Senior Project Coordinator, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Shaili C. Jha  is a member of Dr. Koenen’s research group and works to coordinate and manage all trauma, PTSD, and health outcomes research portfolios. Dr. Jha also serves as the project manager and organizer of the COVID-19 Mental Health Forum Series.

Karestan Koenen, PhD
Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Karestan C. Koenen, a clinical psychologist, epidemiologist and author is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where she aims to reduce the population burden of mental disorders through research, training, and advocacy. She is passionate about using science to overcome violence and trauma, which are major preventable causes of health problems globally.


Kristina Korte, PhD
Clinical Psychologist & Instructor, Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School | Research Associate, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Kristina Korte is an Instructor and Clinical Psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and a Research Associate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Korte’s work focuses of the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in low and middle-income countries including South Africa, Ethiopia, and Uganda. She also serves as the content manager of the COVID-19 Mental Health Forum Series.