UT San Antonio Professor Receives Research Grant From the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
June 1, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas – Dr. Gabriel Acevedo, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is one of 10 tenure-track faculty members in Texas to receive research grants totaling $150,000 from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
The one-year grants are capped at $15,000 each. The foundation received 35 proposals from faculty at 16 colleges and universities in Texas.
Acevedo, an assistant professor of sociology, will examine the influences of religious involvement and civic participation on mental health in low-income communities. He is an expert on the sociology of religion, social theory and social psychology.
“Our sense of well-being can be strengthened by connecting with others who share our interests or beliefs. This study will confirm whether people who participate in religious and community organizations tend to have better mental health, and if so, why,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.
Religious involvement long has been linked to positive mental health, lower rates of depression, and better coping skills in times of stress and anxiety, Acevedo said in his proposal. What isn’t known is whether these mental health benefits are due to religious factors alone, or to the broader social interaction and support that occurs in both religious and secular groups.
“If civic participation is as beneficial to mental health as religious involvement, then future research should pay greater attention to the positive gains from participating in local PTAs, community volunteer groups, associations and other civic groups,” Acevedo said. “The study also may influence the types of mental health treatments and services practitioners recommend to consumers.”
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation’s grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas.