#FeatureFriday: International Congress of Law and Mental Health

Submitted by Aamena Kapasi

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Attending the International Congress of Law and Mental Health in Rome, Italy, was a fantastic experience. This international multidisciplinary conference provided an excellent opportunity for me to learn about different aspects of the interaction between law and mental health from individuals in different disciplines and from all around the world. I also enjoyed exploring the historic and beautiful city of Rome and eating lots of delicious pasta!

I was pleased to present my topic “Considering Mindset Theory in Risk Assessment with Vulnerable Populations”. In my presentation, I discussed mindset theory, which describes implicit theories people hold about their abilities. Individuals may have a fixed mindset, where they believe their abilities are stable and unchanging, or a growth mindset, where they believe their abilities are malleable, and can be developed with effort and experience. In disability population, children are likely to hold a more fixed mindset, perhaps given histories of repeated failures and messaging about the unchangeable nature of the disability. In my research study I examined mindsets in adolescents with FASD before and after they received a self-regulation intervention, and I found that adolescents with FASD had a significant increase in growth mindset after the intervention. This is promising because it demonstrates that it is possible to change the mindsets of adolescents with FASD. Key adults in children’s lives can promote a growth mindset by fostering a sense of competence and an expectation of success. Some ways to do this are by holding children to high (yet realistic) expectations, encouraging them to exert effort, finding and building on their strengths, and communicating a belief that they can succeed.

I had several attendees come up after the presentation to let me know they enjoyed the presentation. One highlight for me was when a gentleman approached me to discuss my presentation in more detail. He told me that he would be soon adopting a child with FASD from a family member, and he wanted more information about it. We exchanged emails and he has been in touch with me. It was a great experience for me to have someone truly appreciate the information I provided and want to discuss it further. It is also motivating to directly interact with those who my research is for.

Overall, attending the International Congress of Law and Mental Health was an enriching and rewarding experience, and I thank the Canada FASD Research Network for financially assisting me to attend the conference.

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