UAMS Psychiatrist to Speak Sept. 14 on Connection Between Teen Depression and Internet Use, Video Games

By Jon Parham

Erick Messias, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, will be discussing his research into the connection between entertainment media and teen depression at a public luncheon Sept. 14 at UAMS.

Cost to attend the luncheon is $20 and can be paid at the door. Reservations, which are required, must be made by Sept. 12 by calling 526-8166 or emailing Donna Smith at

Messias’ presentation, “Internet, Video Games and Mental Health,” will focus on his work, recently published in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, the official journal of the American Association of Suicidology.

Messias and Juan Castro, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, spent months analyzing the 2007 and 2009 editions of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a national survey of high school youth conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Messias, who presented his work at the most recent conference of the American Psychiatric Association, hopes his research will help parents and physicians identify youth who are vulnerable to mental disorders by defining excessive use of the Internet and video games as a risk factor.

“We need to do a better job of understanding how the Internet and video games – whether violent or not – affect young people. For many, the Internet and video games are the only form of social interaction they have; they are their primary source of communication,” said Messias. “We don’t fully understand the consequences of this kind of stimulation, but we hope this work will lead to improving the screening process in adolescents.”

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or