by Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Transit System

Science researchers at UCSD's Department of Psychiatry are getting a $12 million grant over a five-year span. 

The local UC school confirmed that with this grant, they will create a group of researchers with the objective of improving services for children with mental health hardship in schools, pediatric health care and child welfare as well. The funding will help launch a new research center that focuses specifically on this mission.

Before the world was hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, statistics showed that 1 in 5 children in the U.S. had experienced a mental, emotional, developmental or behavior crisis. 

According to a report at the end of last year, that number has spiked at a more concerning rate. The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on Projecting Children's Mental Health from 2021, the mental health crisis among children increased significantly since the initial rise of the pandemic. 

The new center will be directed by Dr. Lauren Brookman-Frazee, PhD, who says this project will utilize evidence-based practices to tackle this particular issue involving children. 

“The new center brings together experts in children’s mental health services and implementation research, evidence-based practices to address mental health and developmental needs, team effectiveness research and computer science to create the infrastructure for innovative and high-impact research that will improve the effectiveness and quality of children’s mental health services.” Brookman-Frazee said.

According to UCSD, the team-based implementation strategies will dig into the following: 

The three additional research projects (R34) will tackle: 

  • Improving the shared decision-making process regarding mental health services by child and family teams in Child Welfare Services, co-led by Danielle Fettes, PhD and Sklar.  
  • Examining the effectiveness of team charters to improve distance training for autism evidence-based practices in schools and specialty mental health services, co-led by Aubyn Stahmer, PhD (UC Davis) and Brookman-Frazee.
  • Testing team communication training to improve depression screening in a pediatric health care system, led by Stadnick.

The team of researches includes scientists from not just UCSD, but also UC Davis, UCLA, UCSD, SDSU, University of Central Florida and other community partners. 

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