Janis Whitlock is a Research Scientist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. She is also the Director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery. She is the author of publications on non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence and young adulthood, social media and mental health, and in youth connectedness to schools and communities. She earned a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University (2003), a Masters of Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill (1994), and a BA from the University of California at Berkeley (1988). Her current primary research focus includes development of early detection and intervention in mental health and wellbeing using social media and other technological affordances, particularly in the areas of self-injury and suicide. In addition to NSF funded research in these areas, she focuses on broadening understanding of non-suicidal self-injury, particularly in relation to recovery and parent experiences. She is also a Principal Investigator for an early intervention project aimed at reducing sexual violence and is pursuing a newer line of research related to sexual health and development in the digital age. She is dedicated to translating research into practice and policy through broad dissemination of user friendly materials and through development of web-based training and education programs for parents and professionals (see www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu), largely as an outgrowth of her work as a practitioner in adolescent and women’s health in a variety of clinical, administrative, and education-related capacities for over a decade.
My current research is dedicated to exploration of the relationship between context, development, and behavior, with a focus on longitudinal assessment and development and testing of interventions. Although known for my work in non-suicidal self-injury, my current work focuses more broadly on health and wellbeing trajectories with particular interest in the role of social media in both affecting mental health and as an intervention tool. The role of parents in supporting recovery and wellbeing has been a major research activity for the past couple of years. This has generated international collaboration and has resulted in both a book contract and web-based training and educational programs for youth serving professionals and parents.
In addition to my work in mental health, I have added a line of inquiry dedicated to understanding the interaction between sexual health and social media. This project has yielded interesting insights and an NIH proposal. In keeping with this genreal line of inquiry, I am the Cornell PI on CDC grant intended to evaluate an intervention for middle school boys aimed at reducing or eliminating sexual violence.
Recent Publications (since 2016)
Whitlock, J. & Lloyd-Richardson, E. (anticipated publication: 2018). Parents on the edge: Understanding and living with your child’s self-injury. Oxford University Trade Press. New York, New York. Anticipated publication: 2017.
Whitlock, J, Lloyd-Richardson, E., Fisseha, F., Bates, T. (2017). Parental secondary stress: The often hidden but important underbelly of non-suicidal self-injury in youth. Journal of Clinical Psychology: doi:10.1002/jclp.22488
Bazarova, N. N., Choi, Y. H., Whitlock, J., Cosley, D., & Sosik, V. (2017). Psychological distress and emotional expression on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(3), 157-163.
Hasking, P., Whitlock, J., Voon D., & Rose, A. (2016): A cognitive-emotional model of NSSI: using emotion regulation and cognitive processes to explain why people self-injure, Cognition and Emotion, DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2016.1241219
Hasking, P.A., Heath, N.L., Kaess, M., Lewis, S.P., Plener, P.L., Walsh, B.W., Whitlock, J., & Wilson, M.S. (2016). Position paper for guiding response to non-suicidal self-injury in schools. School Psychology International, 37 (6): 644-663.
My current professional agenda is dedicated to research, outreach, advising, and adminstration. My research revolves around young adult social and emotional health with a focus on connectedness, self-injury and suicide prevention, sexual violence prevention and intervention development. I am also pursuing a new emphasis on sexual health and development in the digital age and the interaction between social media and wellbeing. I also regularly provide training and talks to youth serving professionals in and outside of university settings on issues germane to college mental health and young adult development.
All of my research activities contain outreach components of value to the Cornell Extension mission. Since I feel strongly about the importance of disseminating information amassed through the research process, I work hard to find mechanisms for supporting the dissemination and outreach component. For example, students in our lab as well as professionals associated with our team develop "translational" products intended to make cutting edge science accessible to lay audiences through fact sheets, web-based power point presentations, and web accessible video segments. We add materials to this pool of resources every year. Materials have been designed for a broad constituency: individuals with self-injury history, parents, peers, and schools and other youth serving agencies seeking guidance about protocols for handling self-injury in institutional settings. Many of these information briefs have been translated into multiple languages including French, German, and Spanish. The website receives over 7,000 unique visitors a month and our factsheets are downloaded multiple times a day. In addition, I regularly do talks to local and national groups, academics and non-academics, in areas related to my expertise and much of my youth-development and school climate-related research is conducted as part of university-community partnerships. All research findings are then made available to our partners and, through them, to the larger communities they affect.
In addition, my students and I created another website, one intended to encompass a greater array of the ativities we undertake, called the Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab: https://www.yrocornell.com/. This will be where we share information realted to activites not directly germane to self-injury and recovery.
Teaching: I teach a course for HD graduate students and CIPA masters students (PADM 5380 & HD 6580) that typically enrolls anywhere from 12 - 35 students. This course typically runs in the spring. I also annually advise 8-10 students through my research lab and co-run a lab with Natalie Bazarova with a rotating set of 4 -6 graduate students from Communications and Computer Science. I supervise another 3-4 in independent studies or honors theses per year. I am currently an ad hoc member of 3 graduate committees. I enjoy interacting with students and view their involvement in lab settings as a tremendous asset since the vast majority of them are motivated, highly talented, and capable of significant focus when engaged.
In both lab and classroom settings I believe strongly in coupling cognitive engagement with opportunities for applying concepts learned through development of materials, synthesis, and other concrete products useful for the project (e.g. materials that go onto our website for distribution). Students benefit through acquiring new skills and, in some cases, having reports or other publications to add to their resume and the program benefits through their fresh perspective, ideas, and finished work. They also work in teams to accomplish these goals so benefit through new relationship ties and the shared learning that happens in this environment.
HD 3530: Risk and Opportunity in Childhood and Adoelscence (not curently offered)
HD 4170: The Translation of Research Evidence into Practice and Policy
PADM 5380 / HD 6680: Seminar in translational research: Bridging research, programs and policies
2003. Ph.D., Human Development, Cornell University.
Dissertation: Voice, Visibility, Place, and Power: Correlates to School and
Community Connectedness Among 8th, 10th and 12th Grade Youth
1994. MPH, Health Behavior & Health Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Masters Thesis: Helpless but not Hopeless: Parental Perspectives on Adolescent Dating Abuse
1988 B.A., Social Sciences Field Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Undergraduate Thesis: The Women's Self Help Movement: Ideology and Action.
• Member Council on Sexual Violence Prevention
• Member Council of Sexual Violence Prevention Research and Evaluation Workgroup
• Member Council of Mental Health and Wellbeing
• Member Mental health Programmers workgroup
Cornell Research Program on Self-Injury and Recovery: www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu
Youth Risk and Opportunity Lab: https://www.yrocornell.com/
Social Media and Mental Health Lab
I maintain (with a lot of student support!):
A Facebook page for the CRPSIR
A Twitter account for the CRPSIR
A linked in account for the CRPSIR
A personal twitter account where I push out professinoal but non-CRPSIR related material