Walking the Walk of Translational Research
At the Empowerment Initiative, we focus on translational research. More to the point: How can we create a kinder, braver world and end cruel, mean behavior? We strive to achieve this by studying the conditions that will enhance lives and help solve real, day-to-day problems such as bullying. To this end, we want to ensure we’re walking the walk of translational research – which, in one recent case, also meant talking the talk.
As we’ve previously mentioned, our Born Brave Research Study revealed that young people generally prefer to seek support via texting and other electronic means. In this spirit, we were extremely excited to partner with Creating Community Solutions and participate in the #TextTalkAct phenomenon on Oct. 6, which was designated National Day Without Stigma.
Empowerment Initiative researchers activated #TextTalkAct on their cell phones, with interactive YouTube and texting opportunities stimulating this important discussion. We talked about multiple mental health issues – and how we ourselves cope with them. Because the team is composed primarily of graduate students, much of our discussion centered on how such students can find time to take care of themselves and support their mental health.
Our ideas included the following:
The Empowerment Initiative and the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) recently presented results from the Born Brave Experience Study at the 2014 American Psychological Association Convention. In 2013, the study – which included an online survey of 2,645 young people aged 13-25 – found that preferred methods of mental health service delivery varied widely based on age, gender, sexual orientation and levels of anxiety or depression. Among our most important findings? Compared with older demographics, younger participants preferred online- and texting-based help-seeking to face-to-face interactions.
Because the Empowerment Initiative aims to conduct translational research that helps reduce the research-to-practice gap, we are especially excited to partner with Creating Community Solutions for the third Text, Talk, Act event on October 6. Text, Talk, Act combines texting, social media and face-to-face conversation to give young people the information and confidence they need to talk about mental health and help a friend who might be struggling with a mental health issue. Given the results of the Born Brave Study, Text, Talk, Act represents an ideal way to engage youth in discussing mental health and promoting how and where to seek help.
With the hashtag #TextTalkAct, everyone can spread the word via Twitter and Facebook. Some sample tweets:
- Because conversation matters and #MentalHealthMatters. Let’s #TextTalkAct about it: bit.ly/TalkMatters
- What will you do when your friend needs help? #TextTalkAct to get informed. Coming Oct 6: bit.ly/texttalkact
- Because a small act of kindness can make a big difference. #TextTalkAct to be part of the change: bit.ly/texttalkact
- Oct 6: 1 hour. 4 people. 1 phone. That’s all it takes to be part of #TextTalkAct. Because #MentalHealthMatters! bit.ly/TTAWorks
“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” ~ Robin Williams
The recent news of Robin Williams’ suicide serves as a stark reminder that more than 100 Americans take their own lives on a daily basis. We know that depression is an illness and, as such, can be effectively treated with various combinations of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. So why do societal stigmas against discussing mental illness continue to persist?
The Empowerment Initiative and the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) believe it’s time to have open conversations about mental health – particularly the need to invest in effective training and treatment. In this spirit, we recently presented results from the 2013 Born Brave Experience Study at the American Psychological Association Convention. Continue reading
Empowerment Initiative researchers Michelle Howell Smith (left) and Theresa McKinney (right) meet Cynthia Germanotta, president of the Born This Way Foundation.
Two of our Born Brave Experience Study researchers, Michelle and Theresa, presented “Best Laid Schemes: Lessons Learned When the Purposes and Research Questions in a Mixed Methods Study Change” at the Mixed Methods International Research Association on June 27 in Boston.
The presentation offered reflections and lessons taken from our implementation of a mixed-methods study of empowerment among youth and young adults ages 13 to 25. Based on social-cognitive theory and the transtheoretical model of change, we are creating a model of youth empowerment and engagement. Inspired by the work of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and their signature project, the Born Brave Bus tour, we’ve sought to understand what empowers youth carry the values of kindness and bravery back to their homes, schools and communities. Continue reading
The Born Brave Experience Study is a mixed-methods project designed to help understand the factors that support youth empowerment and engagement. It also aims to develop effective youth empowerment interventions that will be disseminated through unique outlets that include a Web-based community and the Born Brave Bus. We’re especially interested in factors that help sustain empowerment and engagement over time, thereby cultivating a kinder and braver world.
One of our qualitative interviewers and analysts, Theresa McKinney, gave the first presentation from data collected in 2013 during the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Speaking in late May, McKinney presented “Like a Brick: Lessons Learned in Reflexivity, Data Management, Technology Use, and Team Analysis from a Study of Kindness and Bravery.” Continue reading
In three days, I’ll be running the ING NYC Marathon to support Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (BTWF). I’m excited – and a little scared. But the many incredible people I’ve met since joining the BTWF have inspired me to overcome my doubts in the same way that they’ve conquered their own.
I’m the chair of the Research Advisory Board for the BTWF, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe communities where individuality is celebrated. It aims to accomplish this by connecting youth with the skills, resources and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world. In February 2012, I was honored to take part in the foundation’s launch at Harvard University. I was equally thrilled to become part of the Born Brave Bus Tour’s Behavioral Health Team in early 2013. I completely believe in what Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia, are doing to empower youth, inspire bravery, and create a kinder and braver world. Continue reading