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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
Anne Blumenthal, Joint Doctoral Program in Social Work and Sociology Candidate, was selected for a 2020-2021 Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship Award. The Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship is one of the most prestigious awards granted by the Rackham Graduate School. The fellowship supports outstanding doctoral candidates working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious and impactful. Blumenthal's abstract is "Services or Surveillance? Contextual Differences in the Role of Trust in Parents’ Engagement with Social Services Aimed at Preventing Neglect."
Associate Professor and Director of the Parenting in Context Research Lab, Shawna Lee, says parents throughout the country have encountered unprecedented challenges in the midst of the pandemic. The results help to illustrate how Coronavirus is impacting parenting and how adults are coping with Coronavirus. The report highlights an increase in shouting, yelling or screaming at children in the past two weeks. In addition, during that same timeframe, one in six parents spanked or slapped their child. “For a large number of parents, financial concerns, other worries, social isolation, loneliness and sadness are getting in the way of parenting,” said Lee. The report, co-authored by social work doctoral student Kaitlin Ward, examines how parents have responded to their children during the pandemic.
More states are announcing closings for the duration of the school year. Familiar sources of support, such as teachers and school counselors, will no longer be able to look after the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation parents avoid physical punishment. Other evidence-based recommendations are below.
Heather Tidrick joint PhD student in social work and anthropology, successfully defended her dissertation, " Roma Integration and Institutional Practices with Roma/Gypsies in Postsocialist Hungary.” Her committee consisted of Sandra K. Danziger (co-chair), Alaina Lemon (co-chair), Krisztina E. Fehervary, Laura Lein and Gayle S. Rubin.
Ashley Hajski, Joint PhD student in social work and psychology, successfully defended her dissertation titled, "Young Families in the Community: An Exploratory Analysis of Child Welfare Contact Among Young Mothers and their Children." Her committee consisted of Barry Checkoway (co-chair), Lorraine Gutiérrez (co-chair), Joe Ryan and Monique Ward.
Garrett Pace, Joint PhD student, discusses the harmful effects of spanking with American University Radio. “Our findings suggest that spanking seems to be harmful on a global scale,” says lead author Pace.
Jennifer Tucker Defends Dissertation entitled "In the Time of Mangos, Motorcycles, and Improvised Medicine: Aging with Displacement During the Post-Chavez Venezuelan Crisis." Her committee consisted of Ruth Dunkle (co-chair), Scott Stonington (co-chair), Letha Chadiha and Gayle Rubin.
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106