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Gillian Marshall explores impact of recession-related stress on health

April 20, 2016

The Great Recession devastated millions of Americans financially—but what impacts did that economic stress have on their physical and mental well-being? Gillian Marshall, an assistant professor of social work at the UW Tacoma, wants to answer that question.

Marshall was awarded a five-year, $654,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the link between financial hardship and health. She is the first faculty member at UW Tacoma to receive an NIH Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award. Marshall recently sat down for an interview with UW Today to answer a few questions about her project.

Research study targets marijuana and tobacco users who want to quit

April 15, 2016

The Innovative Programs Research Group, an organization in the UW School of Social Work, is recruiting people 18 and older for a free marijuana and tobacco treatment trial. The study is aimed at adults who are regularly using both substances, want to quit marijuana and are willing to consider kicking the tobacco habit as well.

This group tends to struggle when it comes to quitting marijuana. Rates of tobacco use are high among regular cannabis users — between 40 and 90 percent, depending on the study and the population — and people who seek treatment for marijuana use who are also smokers tend to have poorer outcomes and higher relapse rates, principal investigator Denise Walker said

Social work student James Her given UW Bonderman travel fellowship

April 14, 2016

James Her (MSW ’16) is one of 15 UW students awarded a 2016 Bonderman travel fellowship, worth $20,000. The goal of this sought-after fellowship is to expose students to the intrinsic, often life-changing, benefits of international travel. The grant allows UW students to embark for regions around the world on solo journeys that last for at least eight months.

Says Her, who plans to start his global trek in late August. “I am looking forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone and living in the present moment while exploring Costa Rica, Peru, Morocco, Tonga, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and China.” His goal is to immerse himself in non-Western countries so that he can experience firsthand how people live without the latest technologies and other luxuries so often take for granted in the U.S.

Her credits his social work education with becoming a stronger, more resilient person and addressing his own deeply personal issues. “The most surprising thing I learned about myself while at the UW is how badly I needed to address and begin processing the internalized oppression that I have been struggling with for a long time. The social work program gave me the opportunity to reflect a lot on myself and my experiences, and to recognize how I can have a positive impact on society.” Once Her completes his worldwide travels, he hopes to serve marginalized groups and minority communities. [Photo credit: IWRI]

About The Bonderman Travel Fellowships: David Bonderman, who earned his undergraduate degree in Russian in 1963 from the University of Washington, created the fellowship program. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he received a Sheldon Fellowship that allowed him to travel internationally, an experience that had a profound impact on his life. The Bonderman Travel Fellowships support UW students in having a similarly transformative experience. The UW Graduate School and the University Honors Program administer the program.

Jennifer Stuber writes about working with NRA in Washington Post editorial

April 8, 2016

It wasn’t the hardest phone call I’ve ever made, but it was certainly awkward. I was cold-calling the National Rifle Association. Because the NRA is well-known for offering gun safety training, I wanted to know whether the organization had ideas on how to reduce the number of firearm suicides. Half of all suicides in the United States are by firearm, and roughly two-thirds of all firearm deaths are suicides. Given the NRA’s opposition to virtually all gun regulation, I knew this was a touchy area.

A far harder call was the one I received from a Seattle police officer a few years earlier. The officer told me that my husband had ended his struggle with anxiety and depression with a single bullet. Suddenly, I was a 38-year-old widow and a single parent of two young children. I was left wondering how this had happened and whether it could have been prevented. I was deeply angry at myself, at my husband, at a treatment system that failed him and at a society that made it easy to buy a pistol. I wasn’t the best person to try to start a conversation with the NRA. No wonder it took me a few years to make the call.

Research study finds overweight teen girls more likely to be depressed as adults

April 5, 2016

Women who were overweight as adolescents are more likely than others to have symptoms of depression at age 65, especially if they were raised in low-income families, according to a new study.

The same wasn't true for men, however.

“The most surprising result may be the difference in the relationship between adolescent overweight and later life depressive symptoms by gender,” said lead author Melissa L. Martinson of the University of Washington in Seattle.

The researchers used data from 10,000 people who graduated from high school in Wisconsin in 1957. Study participants answered 20-question surveys the year they graduated and again in 1964, 1975, 1993 and 2004, when they were about 65 years old.

MSW student Lauren Bonazzo Camarda on the debilitating cost of long-term care

April 4, 2016

At 28 years old, the cost of long-term health care was something that had never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until my mother was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that I began to understand the importance and high price of long-term care.

Facing a frightening diagnosis, my mother strove to hold on to the things in her life she could still control. Staying in her home and remaining as independent as possible were very important to her. At the time of her diagnosis, I was living across the country, but I was able to take time away from work to move back to Connecticut and help her accomplish that goal.

When her illness progressed to the point where she could not care for herself, she was able to afford a live-in nurse who attended to her medical and personal long-term-care needs. If she had been faced with this diagnosis later in life, she would not have been able to afford that luxury.

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Forefront forges surprising partnership to pass suicide prevention law

April 1, 2016

fter her husband ended his life with a bullet in 2011, Jennifer Stuber went to the two Washington stores where he had bought guns to talk with the owners about suicide prevention.

That bold move by Stuber, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work, eventually led to the passage of a bill signed into state law March 31 by Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill brings together two unlikely partners — the firearms industry and suicide prevention advocates — with pharmacists in an effort to curb suicide deaths.

The legislation was drafted in consultation with the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, a Washington gun rights group. Alan Gottlieb, the foundation’s executive director, said gun owners and retailers, some of whom have lost loved ones to suicide, have long been concerned about the issue but unsure how to address it.

“None of us know what to look for in warning signs that someone might be in the process of a suicide attempt,” he said. “This legislation is going to be good for our people, because this is information that they need.”

Stuber said the legislation succeeded largely because it involved the firearms industry from the start.

School of Social Work ranked No. 3 in the nation — U.S. News & World Report

March 15, 2016

The School of Social Work’s master degree program ranked No. 3 in the nation, according to the 2017 Best Graduate Schools report released March 16 by U.S. News & World Report. The School received a No. 3 ranking in 2012 as well, the last year that graduate schools of social work were ranked.

“We are thrilled to see that we are once again ranked one of the top schools in this prestigious national survey,” says School of Social Work Dean Edwina Uehara. “This recognition from more than 200 peer institutions reflects the high level of social innovation and impact that our faculty, students and alumni achieve every day through research breakthroughs, classroom engagement and community partnerships.”

To determine the current rankings, U.S. News surveyed 206 social work schools and programs. Out of a top score of 5.0, the School received a score of 4.3. The rankings are based solely on peer assessments conducted by surveys sent to deans, program directors, department chairs and faculty members at accredited social work degree programs nationwide.

Respondents were asked to rate the academic quality of each school’s program on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding). Only fully accredited programs in good standing are ranked. The current rankings were based on surveys conducted in fall 2015 by the research firm, Ipsos Public Affairs. The response rate among schools of social work was 51 percent.

This year, the School was in a three-way tie for the No. 3 spot, along with the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. In the 2012 rankings, the School tied for the third spot with the University of Chicago. The top-ranking school of social work, according to the report, was the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, followed by Washington University in St. Louis.

The UW health sciences schools, which include medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and social work, consistently rank in the top 10 among peer institutions across the country. Read more about the rankings of UW health sciences schools here. (U.S. News & World Report does not rank schools of dentistry.)

Suicide-prevention conference highlights awareness training for gun dealers

March 14, 2016

In Washington state, nearly 80 percent of gun deaths are suicides. After losing her husband to suicide in 2011, UW School of Social Work Associate ProfessorJennifer Stuber started wondering how that statistic could be changed. Her husband, a 40-year-old attorney battling anxiety and depression, had shot himself with a gun he’d recently purchased. Stuber made a cold call to the National Rifle Association.

It was the beginning of an alliance between suicide prevention groups and gun advocates. They worked together to craft Washington’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education for Safer Homes Act. The bill develops suicide prevention training for gun dealers and owners of shooting ranges. It would add suicide prevention messages to hunter safety courses, promote education about safe firearm storage, and also uses pharmacists to talk to customers about safe storage of prescription drugs.

Oregon minimum wage hike rooted in UW School of Social Work research

February 26, 2016

The minimum wage hike approved by the Oregon State Legislature has roots in an influential program from the UW School of Social Work. When Gov. Kate Brown signs Senate Bill 1532, Oregon will create three regions each with its own minimum wage rate, representing a win by a collection of unions, civil rights groups and others, along with Democrats in Salem, who have for months pushed to boost the wages of low-income workers. But the passage of the bill by the House, despite widespread opposition by Republicans and some rural governments, also highlights the effectiveness of the University of Washington studies that guided the bill into its current form.

Dr. Diana Pearce, a senior lecturer at UW School of Social Work and director of the school’s Center for Women’s Welfare, leads an effort by the center to study what she called the basic costs of living in more than three dozen states in the United States, including Oregon. The study is called the Self-Sufficiency Standard and has influenced the debate in Oregon.

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