Hogg Foundation for Mental Health Awards Research Grants to Three SMU Faculty Members
May 24, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas – Three assistant professors at Southern Methodist University in Dallas will study different aspects of mental health conditions in intimate relationships, with the help of research grants from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Proposals submitted by Dr. Nia Parson in the Dept. of Anthropology and by Dr. Amy Pinkham and Dr. Lorelei Simpson in the Dept. of 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.
“People with a mental health condition are more likely to achieve recovery and wellness when they are in healthy, positive relationships. These two studies will add to our understanding of how connections with others can affect a person’s mental health,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.
Parson, a medical anthropologist, will examine the mental health care needs of Mexican immigrant women who have experienced intimate partner violence, which increases the risk of significant mental and physical health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Latino immigrants in the U.S. are underserved by mental health care in general, likely due to barriers such as stigma, difficulty in accessing care and language differences. Latina immigrants who suffer intimate abuse face particular challenges in accessing health care,” Parson said.
She will interview 100 Mexican immigrant women in the Dallas area to identify the extent and effects of the violence they experienced and their opinions of different treatment options. Her research will contribute to a growing body of knowledge about the effectiveness of mental health services for people of different cultures and languages.
Pinkham and Simpson will study the effects of mental health conditions on intimate relationships and will recruit 60 couples for their study.
A serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or major depression can interfere with a person’s ability to communicate, problem-solve and see a partner’s perspective – all social skills that are essential to a healthy relationship. Deficits in these skills can cause problems between two people in a close relationship.
“The project will extend our understanding of how severe mental illness affects interpersonal relationships. We believe this work will be particularly meaningful for individuals in the community and may lead to more effective treatments for individuals and families coping with mental illness,” Simpson said.
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.