Two University of Houston Researchers Receive Hogg Foundation Grants to Study Mental Health
June 16, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas – Two assistant professors in the Dept. of Educational Psychology at the University of Houston each received a $17,500 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to study the mental health of Asian Americans and of children born prematurely.
Proposals by Dr. Tam Dao and Dr. Allison Dempsey were selected from a pool of 48 applicants from 17 universities across Texas. The foundation awarded one-year grants totaling $226,770 to 13 tenure-track assistant professors exploring different aspects of mental health in Texas.
Dao will study how people of different Asian American ethnic groups in Houston seek and respond to mental health treatment. He will analyze utilization rates and treatment outcomes for different Asian groups served by Asian American Family Services. According to Dao, Asian Americans typically are studied as one homogenous group despite their diversity.
“Researchers often study Asian subpopulations as one group, despite the fact that they are very different, with some subgroups experiencing higher rates of social, health, and mental problems than others,” said Dao. “This grant will allow me to continue to research the relationship between mental illness and physical health conditions such as coronary artery disease and chronic pain in Caucasian and Asian patients.”
Dempsey will develop a screening tool to identify behavioral health issues common among children who are born prematurely and their caregivers, and will assess the effectiveness of follow-up services. According to Dempsey, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of children born prematurely later exhibit symptoms of mental illness or brain disorders, such as attention-deficit disorder, autism and learning disabilities. Dempsey hopes to find a way to detect these mental health problems early.
“Many mental health problems common in children born preterm are not detected until school-age because screening for these conditions is not routinely done in pediatric settings,” said Dempsey. “This study is a critical first step in developing a feasible, acceptable and effective way to identify and address the mental health needs of children born preterm.”
“Dr. Dao and Dr. Dempsey each have identified areas of mental health that need further study. Better understanding of utilization rates and treatment outcomes for different Asian groups and early identification of the mental health needs of children born prematurely are critical issues where we need improvement,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. executive director of the Hogg Foundation.
The Hogg Foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James S. Hogg, and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. The foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research, and public education.