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2021 Wellness Wednesday Episode 6

Mental Health and Self Compassion for AYAs Across the Continuum

The American Cancer Society estimates that in the year 2021 there will be 88,260 new cases of Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) (ages 15 – 39) cancers in the United States. In addition to facing key developmental life milestones, AYAs also face a number of health disparities and quality of life issues related to cancer that can affect disease outcome, survival rates and coping with the distressing side effects of cancer. As a result, a growing number of AYAs report access to adequate mental health resources as a top, unmet need to manage cancer related morbidities such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress.

The transformative practice of mindful self-compassion offers a new way to embrace healing by teaching us how to be kind to ourselves in moments of difficulty or suffering. Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) — developed by Christopher Germer, PhD, a leader in the integration of mindfulness and psychotherapy, and Kristin Neff, PhD, a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion — is an empirically supported program that shows how the development of a compassionate inner voice decreases stress, cultivates resilience and overall contributes to long term well-being.

Please join Dr. Karen Bluth, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UNC and MSC Instructor, and Amelia Coffaro, certified Yoga Therapist and AYA survivor, as they explore how self-compassion can support the unique emotional and mental health needs of AYAs across the cancer care continuum. This session will include guided, experiential practice and time for Q&A.

Watch the recording here.


Dr. Karen Bluth, PhD

Dr. Karen Bluth is faculty in the Department of Psychiatry, and a research fellow at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, where she is founder and director of the Frank Porter Graham Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Program for Families ( ). She is a certified instructor of Mindful Self-Compassion, an internationally acclaimed 8-week course created by Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Chris Germer, and one of the developers of Self-Compassion for Educators, a self-compassion program offered through Mindful Schools. Dr. Bluth is also co-creator of the curriculum Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self-Compassion Program for Teens, the teen adaptation of Mindful Self-Compassion for adults, and “Embracing Your Life” the adaptation for young adults. She is also author of the books “The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self-Criticism and Embrace Who You Are” (New Harbinger Publishers), “The Self-Compassionate Teen: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice” (New Harbinger Publishers) and co-author of “Mindfulness and Self-Compassion for Teen ADHD: Build Executive Functioning Skills, Increase Motivation, and Improve Self-Confidence” (to be released May, 2021).

As a mindfulness practitioner for over 40 years, a mindfulness teacher, and an educator with 18 years of classroom teaching experience, Dr. Bluth frequently gives talks, conducts workshops, and teaches classes in self-compassion and mindfulness in educational and community settings. In addition, she trains teachers in Making Friends with Yourself internationally.


Amelia Coffaro

Amelia Coffaro, C-IAYT, is a Certified Yoga Therapist in the infusion center at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Cancer Center in Milwaukee, WI, a member of the Yoga Committee for the SIO, and the Project Manager for the Bounce Back Study Stakeholder Group, a mind-body stress management program for adolescents and young adults cancer survivors led by Dr. Giselle Perez-Lougee, PhD. After experiencing a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer at age 27, she dedicated her work to meeting the unique needs of people with cancer as ways to manage, prevent and heal from disease or illness. She is passionate about creating accessible, inclusive and holistic healing communities for young adults with cancer and chronic illness, and using mind-body medicine to empower young people in their health and healing.