November 28, 2022

Three teams involving researchers from UW School of Social Work or UW Tacoma School of Social Work and Criminal Justice received grants recently from UW Medicine Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions.

Over the past decade, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among adolescents and young adults increased significantly, and then soared during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Garvey Institute grants will help develop and test innovative approaches to improve the mental health and addiction problems of this audience.

The grants were awarded to 12 UW faculty-led teams representing seven schools and colleges. Projects will run from January 1-December 31, 2023. Awardees with social work representation are:

Developing a cannabis intervention for young adults with psychosis. As many as one-third of young people who experience early psychosis use cannabis; one in four meets the criteria for a cannabis-use disorder. Psychosis relapse is particularly devastating, leading to greater disability and costing some $37 billion in healthcare costs each year. Cannabis is considered the most preventable cause of psychosis relapse yet no effective intervention has been created for this population. Using Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), researchers will develop and evaluate a tailored cannabis intervention and provider manual with the potential to mitigate the costly impact of psychosis on public health systems and improve outcomes for young people in Washington state.  UW School of Social Work team members: Principal Investigator Denise Walker, research professor and director of the School’s Innovative Programs Research Group; co-investigator Ryan Petros, assistant professor.

Optimizing mental health first-aid programming for sports coaches. Many sports organizations acknowledge the importance of mental health for their athletes but evidence-based resources are lacking. This project will obtain data on a mental health first-aid training program for coaches called Time Out for Mental Health, ensuring that the training is useful and feasible to implement for coaches who work in resource-deprived school and community settings. Time Out for Mental Health has the potential to strengthen connections between sports organizations and school- and community-based mental health services, affecting thousands of adolescents annually. School of Social Work team member: Jennifer Stuber, associate professor.

Reducing barriers to accessing mental health care using a web-based program for young adults. Most young adults with mental health or substance use disorders do not receive treatment which can lead to impaired social relationships, overall functioning and suicide. This project aims to develop a personalized web-based program for young adults that reduces barriers to accessing mental health care and substance use services. The team will work with clinicians and young adults to develop strategies and identify solutions, and with a community advisory board to develop program content that will be further refined through focus groups and individual interviews. UW Tacoma School of Social Work and Criminal Justice team member: Michelle Garner, associate professor.