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Joint PhD Program News

    Natasha Johnson, PhD ‘20 Receives a Racial Injustice Award From the U-M Depression Center

    Natasha Johnson, PhD ‘20, has received a $5,000 Racial Injustice Award From the U-M Depression Center for her research on racism awareness among Black youths. Her research has the potential to provide empirical support for intervention programs aimed at combating racism by developing a psychometric tool that will evaluate resilient pathways for racially marginalized youth.

  2. Joyce Y. Lee
    Joyce Lee Co-authored Children's Book on Fighting Anti-Asian Racism

    Joyce Lee, PhD student, has co-authored a children's book on fighting anti-Asian racism during COVID-19. The book is free and provides an educational resource to help generate meaningful discussions between adults and children about anti-Asian racism.

  3. Natasha Johnson
    Natasha Johnson Defends Dissertation

    Congratulations to Natasha Johnson, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Psychology, for successfully defending her dissertation, "You Must Work Twice as Hard for Half as Much: Racial Socialization, Racial Identity, and Racism Awareness in Adolescence." Her committee chairs were Daphne Watkins and Stephanie Rowley. Johnson was awarded the Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation and will be working as a postdoctoral fellow with the U-M School of Public Health.

  4. Change Kwesele
    Words Matter: Insights on Conversations About Race

    PhD student Change Kwesele recently published ‘It’s Not a Quick Fix.’ Notes for the ‘good’ white people: Insights on conversations about race at work” on Medium.  Kwesele breaks down why the choice of words matters.  “White people must be mindful of how certain ‘polite’ words and conversations have been used to harm Black people.”

  5. Janelle R. Goodwill
    Janelle Goodwill Defends Dissertation

    Janelle Goodwill, Joint PhD student in Social Work and Psychology, successfully defended her dissertation "A multi-method analysis of stigma, social support, and suicide ideation among Black college students." Her committee consisted of Daphne Watkins, Jacqueline Mattis (co-chairs), Robert J. Taylor and Myles Durkee.

    • May 7, 2020
    Lauren White, Joint PhD Student NIMH Funded to Support Youth Suicide Prevention

    The National Institute of Mental Health is funding Lauren White, Joint PhD student in Social Psychology and Social Work, to study a new suicide prevention model, Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide. The program is a health intervention designed, supported and implemented by remote communities in Northwest Alaska to decrease youth suicide. Professor Lisa Wexler is the principal investigator.

    • April 27, 2020
  7. Sara F. Stein
    Sara Stein Talks to WWJ 950 About MI Frontline Support

    Sara Stein, Joint PhD student social work and psychology discussed MI Frontline Support a program offering mental health care to essential workers during the Coronavirus pandemic. The program makes it easier for frontline workers to connect with licensed clinicians. 

  8. Matthew J. SmithKari Sherwood
    Matthew Smith and SIMmersion LLC Awarded a $3.1 Million Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health

    Associate Professor Matthew Smith and SIMmersion LLC were awarded a $3.1 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Smith is the scientific lead developing a virtual simulation, which will help autistic teens and young adults learn effective ways to talk and interact with customers, coworkers and supervisors in work settings. Joint PhD student Kari Sherwood is assisting with this project.

    • April 17, 2020
  9. Julie M. RibaudoSara F. Stein
    Michigan Social Workers Create Trauma-Informed Coloring Book

    Clinical Associate Professor Julie Ribaudo, Joint PhD Student Sara Stein and the team from Zero to Thrive have created a trauma-informed coloring book for young children and their caregivers. Children may struggle to understand COVID-19. In the absence of concrete explanations, children can often imagine the worst and blame themselves for the changes they are experiencing.  Georgie and the Giant Germ was developed to support caregivers in holding difficult conversations and to give children a way to express and manage their worries.

  10. Sara F. Stein
    Sara Stein and MI Frontline Support Essential Workers During COVID-19 Crisis

    Michigan’s frontline workers are providing essential services during the pandemic and they are also dealing with unprecedented stress.  Knowing the potential impact of this stress on workers’ psychological well-being, a team including Joint PhD student Sara Stein LMSW, MS and Joy Wolfe Ensor, PhD ‘83, has created MI Frontline Support, a mental health initiative to help frontline workers in Michigan get easy-to-access support from clinicians. Other team members include Erin Barbossa, Felicia Brabec and Sarah Jurkovic.

    “The mental health of our doctors, nurses, delivery personnel, grocery clerks, gas station attendants and other essential workers is paramount now more than ever,” says Sara Stein “They are putting their own health and safety, not to mention that of their families, at risk to save others affected by the outbreak, provide needed food and deliver crucial necessities to Michiganders. I feel it’s our responsibility, as social workers and psychologists, to ensure that frontline workers who are supporting all of us during this pandemic can access the mental health care they need.” Members of MI Frontline Support along with members of the southeast Michigan mental health community delivered an online psychoeducational presentation on the mental health risks of the pandemic to frontline workers. 

    MI Frontline Support’s priority is to develop a detailed list of mental health clinicians who can provide services to essential workers in need. “We invite all licensed Michigan mental health professionals to join this initiative. The list will reduce the barriers that make it difficult to find a provider,” says Stein. MI Frontline Support is removing the long wait to find a therapist, providing easy insurance information for clients who have insurance, pay what you can for those who still have resources, and some volunteer services for frontline workers who can't afford anything. 

    You can do your part:

    • If you are a licensed clinician who wants to be added to the directory of available providers go to and fill out the Google form.  
    • If you are working or know of someone on the frontlines who is suffering from stress, emotional strain and physical exhaustion and needs help coping, share the list of providers.

    During this global pandemic, it is essential to protect Michigan’s frontline workers. Interventions such as MI Frontline Support bolster the mental well-being for workers exposed to COVID-19.

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