Past Event

Mental and Behavioral Interventions: Addressing the Effects of COVID-19

June 1, 2020
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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Lena Verdeli, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of Clinical Training, Columbia University

Rania Atalla, Psychotherapist and Mental Health Professional

Introduction by Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development, Columbia University


Monday, June 1, 2020
7:00 - 8:00 pm (GMT+3) | 12:00 - 1:00 pm (EDT)


As an ever-growing number of communities around the globe are struggling to manage the colossal and multiple effects of COVID-19, high levels of distress are becoming the norm. This webinar will present information on the mental health impact of the pandemic on the general population, examine factors that increase the risk for more prolonged and severe mental health conditions, and outline resilience-promoting best practices and policies in enhancing well-being. Our panelists will also discuss evidence-based behavioral health strategies to assist individuals and families manage the emotional impact of COVID on their lives.




Lena Verdeli, PhD, MSc, is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Columbia University. She is also the Founder and Director of the Global Mental Health Lab at Teachers College. Dr. Verdeli has received federal and foundation funding to study psychotherapy for prevention and treatment of mood disorders. Over the past fifteen years, she has played a key role in landmark studies involving adaptation, training, and testing of psychotherapy protocols.
Dr. Verdeli has collaborated internationally with academic groups, ministries of health, local NGOs, and international agencies to alleviate the suffering of adults locally defined as depressed in southern Uganda; war-affected adolescents in IDP camps in northern Uganda; traumatized IDP women in Colombia; distressed patients in primary care in Goa, India; depressed community members in Haiti; war-affected Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
Dr. Verdeli is a Scientific Advisory Council member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Scientific Advisory Board of Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. She is the first author of the manual on Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy, which has been disseminated globally online by the World Health Organization.



Rania Atalla is a psychotherapist in private practice who has been in the field of mental health for nearly a decade. She earned a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and trained at the Al-Rashid Hospital Center for Psychiatry and Addictions.
Prior to that, Ms. Atalla earned a BA and MA in political science from Georgetown University and had worked in the field of politics and communications for nearly two decades. She was a journalist in Amman and Washington, D.C. for a few years. Ms. Atalla served as Director of the Jordan Information Bureau in Washington, where she was in charge of Communications and Congressional affairs for Jordan until 1999. She moved back to Amman to serve as Her Majesty Queen Rania’s first Chief of Staff and subsequently as His Majesty King Abdullah II’s Communications Director.
After finishing her public service, she moved back to Washington, D.C. to serve as the first U.S. Executive Director of Women for Women International, a global women’s empowerment organization working in conflict and post-conflict countries.