In Clark University’s new podcast series “Challenge. Change,” Nadia Ward, director of the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, describes how the Institute applies its integrated behavioral model to benefit youth. She notes that teaching resiliency skills is the most powerful way to address the root causes of behavioral health issues, diminish the stigma associated with those issues, and increase young people’s willingness to disclose their health concerns and seek care.
Research can be a potent thing. It generates new knowledge, defies norms, makes a difference, and can drive action. Case in point: Clark’s Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, which is directing its intellectual resources toward confronting a mental health crisis among young people that the U.S. surgeon general has labeled as “devastating.”
Under the leadership of youth mental health expert Nadia Ward, the Institute has dramatically redirected its mission to help lift adolescents and young adults, particularly young men of color, toward positive behavioral and mental health outcomes. The Institute has developed an integrated behavioral model that has led to evidence-based technologies and services such as the Sensory Immersion Room at the Solnit Children’s Center, a psychiatric residential treatment facility in East Windsor, Connecticut, for boys ages 13-17 whose backgrounds often include trauma, psychosis, depression, or anxiety. Opened in June 2021, the room was designed and equipped using extensive scientific and clinical data and expertise.
Soon, the Institute expects to launch the MI PEACE mobile app, which allows adolescents and young adults — as well as their parents, counselors, and educators — to learn about common behavioral health concerns, assess their own symptoms, and determine a course of action to effectively address their challenges and build the emotional and social skills to be successful in school and life.
When mental health practitioners identify a useful intervention — an evidence-based practice to improve a patient’s life — it can take as much as 15 or 20 years of testing and research to get it into the hands of people who want to use it in their work with young people, Ward says. “We actively considered how we could create an evidence base for the resources and tools we are building while simultaneously marketing and scaling them so that practitioners could more quickly use them with youth and their families.”