WAKEFIELD — Executive Director Margie Daniels reports that the Massachusetts Partnerships for Youth (MPY) is sponsoring a conference for educators examining the intersection of mental health and substance abuse. 

Many individuals, including young people, who develop substance use disorders are also diagnosed with mental disorders, and vice versa. This conference will detail the relationship between substance use and mental disorders, and learn more about the ways in which educators and other stakeholders can help. 

“MPY’s first professional development conference on Cape Cod brings together two acclaimed experts – Dr. Scott Lukas and Michelle Lipinski – to address how mental health and underage substance abuse issues interrelate,” said Director Daniels. “With an eye toward prevention, this conference is very timely and relevant.”


Wednesday, March 16, from 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Cape Cod Technical High School, 351 Pleasant Lake Ave., Harwich, MA 02645


  • State Senator Julian Cyr, Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery
  • Scott E. Lukas, Ph.D., McLean Hospital, Director; McLean Imaging Center, Director; Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory; Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry
  • Michelle D. Lipinski, M.Ed., Principal, Northshore Recovery High School


State Senator Julian Cyr will deliver a recorded keynote address as this daylong professional development conference examines the connections between substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Data shows high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders, which include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Underage substance use and mental health issues often co-occur because the brain continues to develop until the late 20s,” said Dr. Lukas. “When an adolescent begins to have mental health issues, he or she may try to self-medicate with a psychoactive drug, leading to abuse. It is also possible that early substance use can “mask” the symptoms of a mental health disorder, and delay proper diagnosis and treatment. Effective treatments are available for both disorders, but the key is early recognition of the signs and symptoms and then implementing a treatment plan as soon as possible.”

Presentations at the conference will focus on the challenges facing youth today, as well as the substances that young people most often become involved with, and how educators and other stakeholders can help provide resources and guidance to steer youth around the many hazards involved and toward wellness.

“Countless studies have shown that the earlier adolescents begin abusing substances, the greater their chance of becoming dependent on them. Since we know many pre-existing mental health conditions, trauma, and social/family conditions increase the likelihood of substance misuse, we should be addressing these underlying root causes as they are happening by providing children with the supportive environments they need to thrive,” said Principal Lipinski. “By taking the primary emphasis off of substances and instead examining each student’s own unique experiences and circumstances and introducing them to holistic, developmentally appropriate coping strategies we can create a different mindset around substance use and other maladaptive behaviors which will translate into greater opportunities to create a happier and healthier life.”

About the Massachusetts Partnerships for Youth, Inc.

Massachusetts Partnerships for Youth, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides training, fosters collaboration, and develops programming to increase the health and safety of students. MPY is committed to bringing cutting-edge information and high-quality trainings to constituents and endeavors to provide solution-oriented, community-based, multi-disciplinary approaches to reducing and ideally eliminating risky behaviors for youth.

Massachusetts Partnerships for Youth is governed by a Board of Directors made up of school superintendents, police and fire chiefs, and other community leaders who work closely with MPY staff to deliver this mission.

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