The Center for Youth Social Emotional Wellness (CYSEW) conducts cross-disciplinary research; crossing boundaries and encouraging diverse perspectives to solve challenging social/societal problems. Below are three examples of on-going research projects at CYSEW that cross disciplines. If you would like to support or collaborate on one of these projects, please email the CYSEW Director – email@example.com. CYSEW also implements research projects for the community and industry. Please contact the director if you have a research idea you would like to partner with CYSEW to implement or if you have a prevention/intervention program you would like CYSEW to evaluate.
Evidence-based mental health care is typically implemented by specialized mental health clinicians who are not available in many locations. Further, evidence-based mental health services are often intensive and costly. This creates significant mental health inequities with youth/families from lower income areas being significantly less likely to receive evidence-based care. Difficulties paying attention and concentrating are commonly associated with mental health conditions. It takes lots of time and effort from clinicians, caregivers, and teachers to help youth stay focused, especially when they are completing difficult tasks like homework and studying for tests.
A cross-disciplinary team from Psychology, Engineering, Arts, and Social Work is studying whether a virtual reality environment that requires no clinician, parent, or teacher involvement, can improve concentration and homework effort, efficiency, and motivation. Imagine being in a virtual setting like a beach. All external visual and audio distractions are removed and you only hear the sounds of waves on the beach. You are sitting in a beach chair and can see and operate your computer within this setting. If VR can significantly improve concentration and academic performance, it could be made available in settings such as public libraries and would require minimal human resources to implement; increasing access to care and mental health equity.
School-Based Mental Health
Evidence-based mental health is most often implemented in specialty outpatient clinics. Families face cost, stigma, and transportation barriers to accessing these services. CYSEW focuses on integrating mental health services into school and pediatric settings to increase access to care and reduce stigma. CYSEW also focuses on the development of brief interventions that are easy to implement in schools with minimal resources. This ensures that the interventions we develop are more likely to be used in real world settings. One such intervention is the Homework, Organization, and Planning Skills (HOPS) intervention.
The HOPS intervention has been evaluated in multiple randomized trials and found to be highly effective for adolescents with ADHD. HOPS is delivered at school, during the school day, and meetings last no longer than 20 minutes. HOPS was designed this way because like all CYSEW interventions, the development process started by asking community and school-based providers what they needed and what would work for them. In partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), HOPS is currently undergoing a large study in Philadelphia area schools focused on real world implementation. Providers receive a brief training and the HOPS treatment manual and then implement the program with no additional supports to mimic real world school intervention conditions.
You can learn more about the HOPS intervention and access the intervention materials at – hopsintervention.com
Cigarette Use in Black Emerging Adults – Racial Socialization and Identity as Protective Factors
Mental health equity is the core focus of CYSEW faculty, staff, and students. As such, much of our research focuses on systems level factors, such as the impact of structural racism on access to mental health care. CYSEW takes a positive mental health approach; moving beyond focusing on deficits and problems to study factors that make youth resilient and successful even under difficult circumstances.
A cross-disciplinary team of researchers is evaluating the longitudinal impact of racial discrimination and race-related stress on cigarette and tobacco use among Black emerging adults. The consequences of tobacco use, which kills close to half a million adults annually, is disproportionately borne by Black/African Americans. African Americans are more likely than Asians, Hispanics, and Whites to report current use of any product, cigarettes, as well as any cigar product, and have the highest tobacco-related cancer incidence and mortality rates of any racial/ethnic group. However, despite the fact that 4 out of 5 African Americans are not tobacco users, almost all tobacco research with African American populations use has focused on risk factors, overlooking potential sociocultural protective factors. This study evaluates the impact of racial socialization and racial identity as protective factors between racial discrimination and stress on adult current cigarette use and total tobacco use.
CYSEW has many other on-going research projects, such as studies focused on the interaction between mental health and addiction and brief online interventions to prevent alcohol and drug use. For more information on any of these projects or to partner with CYSEW to implement a project, please contact the CYSEW Director at – firstname.lastname@example.org.
CYSEW faculty are available to provide community- and school-based presentations on evidence-based mental health practices.