Two TAMU Faculty Receive Mental Health Research Grants
May 26, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas – Two assistant professors at Texas A&M University in College Station will study different aspects of mental health with the help of research grants from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Proposals submitted by Dr. Shoshana Eitan in the Dept. of Psychology and Dr. Jeffrey Liew in the Dept. of Educational Psychology were selected from a pool of 47 applicants from 19 universities across Texas. The foundation awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $150,000. The one-year grants are capped at $15,000 each.
Eitan will analyze the long-term effects of illegal drug use by youth on their long-term mental health. According to recent studies by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Partnership of Drug-Free America, narcotics such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin) and morphine are second only to marijuana in illegal drug use in the U.S. One in five teens abused prescription pain medication in 2008.
The project will examine the effects of morphine on groups of mice to determine how drug use during adolescence affects the brain’s normal processes and long-term mental health and wellness.
“Adolescent brains are still under ‘construction,’ which makes them more sensitive than adults to the effects of drug abuse on brain development,” Eitan said. “Identifying how drug abuse affects brain development and mental health will aid in developing and implementing new age-specific mental health policies, services and treatments.”
Liew will examine the influences of stereotypical beliefs and culture on the academic achievement and mental health of Chinese American youth in Houston. Liew and his team will collect data on grade point averages, academic performance and social, emotional and behavioral functioning for 100 adolescents. The findings may provide insights into working more effectively with Chinese American families to promote students’ academic achievement and mental health.
“Asian Americans, one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the U.S., often are labeled as “model minorities” and perceived as exceptionally high academic achievers,” Liew said. “In fact, they may be underserved for mental health needs because of these stereotypes. They also tend to avoid seeking services when they do have mental health concerns.”
“These studies will take a new look at how drug abuse and cultural differences affect the mental health of Texas youths. These findings could lead to more effective ways of preventing and treating mental illness among adolescents,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.
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. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.