Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Howard V. Brabson Collegiate Professor Joseph Himle and Assistant Professor Addie Weaver, research “A systematic review of rural-specific barriers to medication treatment for opioid use disorder in the United States” is referenced in The Atlantic's “America’s Other Epidemic - A new approach to fighting the opioid crisis as it quietly rages on.” The drug-overdose epidemic has already killed 800,000 Americans—more than have died from AIDS—but the federal government has yet to provide adequate solutions, let alone a level of funding that could stem the crisis.
Associate Professor Terri Friedline discusses financial system reform and consumer protections to ensure that people and communities have access to safe and affordable financial products and services during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Assistant Professor Addie Weaver recently started a pilot program to increase access to depression treatment in rural communities, which often lack mental health professionals, as part of her National Institute of Mental Health-funded Career Development Award. She collaborated with pastors and human service providers from Hillsdale, Michigan to develop an evidence-based, computer-assisted depression treatment program, Raising Our Spirits Together. The computer-assisted program, based on cognitive behavioral therapy, was designed to be delivered in small groups in rural churches, with local pastors serving as facilitators.
As the project was launching, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order to fight the spread of the coronavirus. It was no longer feasible to meet in person for small group sessions at the church. Weaver and her partners had already identified a group of people who needed depression treatment and were concerned about their symptoms worsening due to the additional stresses of social distancing and isolation.
After talking with the pastors and group members, Weaver and her research team retooled the treatment program and now offer Raising Our Spirits Together remotely. Weaver, the pastors, and group members gather online once a week to complete the treatment program. Group members have shared how meaningful it is to continue treatment, stay connected with one another, and to learn new skills and tools to help them manage their depression during this difficult time.
Team members include Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Howard V. Brabson Collegiate Professor of Social Work Joseph Himle, Professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, Project Coordinator Caroline Landry, Community Research Coordinator Jeffery Johnson, and MSW student Trevor Buys.
By developing solutions during this rapidly changing time, Weaver and her team are providing crucial mental health support to rural community members.
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.
Associate Professor Terri Friedline’s research, “Mapping Financial Opportunity” can be used to inform the Automatic BOOST to Communities Act drafted by Rashida Tlaib, U.S. Representative for Michigan's 13th congressional district. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the proposed legislation would immediately provide a U.S. debit card preloaded with $2,000 to every person in America, which could be transitioned into a universal federal or postal banking account. Each card would be recharged with $1,000 monthly until one year after the end of the coronavirus crisis. Friedline's research focuses on universal bank account access and she maps post office locations to inform the potential for postal banking.
Professor Luke Shaefer is quoted in a New York Times article detailing how low-income families often bear the brunt of the pain in natural disasters and large-scale emergencies. “They tend to be the first hit when things go wrong and then also to take the longest time to recover.”
Alaska Public Media interviewed Professor Lisa Wexler about her work with a new suicide prevention model titled Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide. The program is a community health intervention designed, supported and implemented by remote communities in Northwest Alaska to decrease suicide. “The whole process is all about self-determination and about people deciding for themselves what they want to do and how they want to do it,” Wexler said.
When children experience stress and adversity in their homes and communities, schools become a critically important setting in which to intervene and foster their resilience. Marion Elizabeth Blue Professor of Children and Families Todd Herrenkohl has collaborated on a video to help school professionals understand and better educate vulnerable and traumatized students.
Ahead (Issue 4) - In-depth views of social work research at the University of Michigan. This issue includes:
Where are the nation’s most disadvantaged communities? With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Professor Luke Shaefer, a team of researchers from U-M Poverty Solutions and Princeton University explored this question and developed an Index of Deep Disadvantage to identify and better understand America’s most disadvantaged communities. By identifying communities of deep disadvantage can help direct resources where they’re most needed.
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