Active Minds Blog » research Changing the conversation about mental health Wed, 25 May 2016 12:46:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Emerging Scholars Fellowship: What Active Minds and My Project Has Taught Me Tue, 17 May 2016 13:02:29 +0000 Corey is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Corey and her fellow scholars here.

Wow, it’s already my last blog post.  Where did the time go?

It’s been a hectic semester of running around trying to get everything done, but I made it and my project is finally finished!  In the beginning of the semester, I originally hoped to prove the difference anonymity could have on cyber-bystanders and cyberbullying.  Unfortunately due to my small sample size, I was unable to definitively show that effect.  However, I found other interesting results that hadn’t anticipated.

One of my biggest hiccups in my project was transitioning platforms. Last semester I used an app called Rooms, which was a branch from its parent company Facebook.

rooms logogroup me logo

The Rooms app was unavailable this past semester so instead I used the app GroupMe.  Both were unique in their format and features, but were the most similar apps I could find.  However, there was one major difference in these two apps.  In GroupMe, users could “hide” posts and would then make the post invisible to the user but not to anyone else.  Whereas in Rooms, users could “report” an individual comment, post or chat room to an overall network server but would not disappear.

In the Rooms condition, more participants were inclined to report posts or comments than participants in the GroupMe condition.  This was interesting for me because I never imagined something as simple as word choice could make a huge impact on cyber-bystanders taking action in a cyber-bullying attack.

Although these results were not what I had originally hoped for, I’m excited to see where this research will take me in the future, and what this will mean for anonymous apps and their formatting.

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5 Important New College Mental Health Statistics Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:18:08 +0000 Breaking news: Research shows that improving campus attitudes towards mental health enhances student success AND saves taxpayer’s money!

Let’s be real, all of us who are advocating for mental wellness on college campuses every day could have told everyone that a long time ago… but still, this is a big deal! We now have some solid data that definitely proves that our work is working, and we are on the right track with the most effective approaches to mental health promotion.

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So, here’s the scoop:

A major study conducted at public colleges throughout California set out to assess factors that influence mental health services utilization among students, and the potential societal impact of investing in mental health programs on campus. The RAND Corporation researchers who led the study surveyed a total of 33,943 students, and 14,018 faculty and staff at 39 public universities throughout California.

Here’s what they learned.

1. Students on campuses where there was a supportive environment for mental health issues were more than 20% more likely to receive mental health services than their peers on campuses where mental health issues are more stigmatized.

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2. On campuses that have invested in mental health prevention and early intervention efforts (think: reducing stigma, reaching out, normalizing mental health) we saw the percentage of students who were receiving treatment for their mental health issues increase by 13%.

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3. For every $1 invested in prevention and early intervention efforts, the state of California sees a $6.49 return. This return on investment reflects the hundreds of additional students who will graduate because they received the support that they needed, will go on to get higher paying jobs that will stimulate the economy, and need fewer emergency services related to mental health crises.

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4. Students with active coping skills were consistently more likely to use mental health services compared with their peers who did not possess these skills. Lesson learned: focus attention on teaching students how to manage stress.

(Speaking of which.)

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5. If the culture of every California public college campus was supportive of mental wellness, we could expect to see a rise in the use of mental health services among students with current mental health symptoms, or recent academic impairment related to mental health issues, by an average of 39%.

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This is groundbreaking research that has the potential to enhance our capacity as a society to become more accepting, welcoming, and supportive of the mental health challenges that so many of us experience. Hopefully this serves as some fuel for the outstanding work that you are doing on your campuses and in your communities, and that we are seeing throughout our amazing Active Minds network!

For those of you who like data and research reports, and want to learn more, here are the links to the two referenced in this blog:

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Let’s Play With Some Data Wed, 20 Apr 2016 12:49:57 +0000 Matt is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Matt and his fellow scholars here.

pikachuHello readers! I’m gearing up for a summer of reading, writing, and learning about college student mental health.

One of the best ways to learn about something, at least for me, is to just jump right into it and play with it and look at it. Lucky for me, much of the data I’m using for my project is available online to play with. Here’s some of the most interesting findings (in my opinion):

knowledge of services graph

This graph shows knowledge of services (i.e., counseling, hotlines, etc.) vs. where students are living.

Students living on-campus (OnOth, OnRes, Greek) have the highest knowledge of services, while students living off-campus (Off, Fam) have the lowest.Why is this? My guess is that students on-campus are highly exposed to information about resources, while students living off-campus don’t get this information as much.

anxiety v field of study graph

This graph shows anxiety vs. field of study. I’m only showing the largest and smallest four, as well as the average.

It shows that students in majors related to arts and design (e.g., architecture and music), as well as social work, have the highest anxiety. Students in business and engineering appear to have the lowest. Why is this? Perhaps the subjectivity of the coursework (e.g. grading a sculpture vs. mathematical calculations) causes greater worry for students in these majors.

While these are only two graphs, there’s a ton of other variables to look at, including stigma, help-seeking, substance use, numbers of years in school, gender, and race/ethnicity. I encourage you to go check out the data yourself!

These numbers represent real college students, and may help you come up with new ideas for programs. For example, do stress relief activities with arts students, or reach out to students living at home!

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Cai’s Good News Thu, 14 Apr 2016 12:17:13 +0000 Cai is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Cai and his fellow scholars here.

Hi all! I know you’ve been missing my posts, so this is me again, with some good news!

  1. First of all, I decided to join Stanford University in the fall as a first-year PhD student in Psychology! This is a milestone in my life. I am very excited about the next 5 years at Stanford and can’t wait to be spoiled by the unparalleled intellectual environment there, and of course, the good weather in the Bay Area.

  1. I received a competitive Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grant to support my current project! This would allow me to recruit more participants as I can pay more of them with more money. I guess sometimes materialism can be used for good ;)

  1. I am halfway through data collection! I have already collected data from 80 participants and need 60 more. To be completely honest, it was really exhausting to collect data from so many people, especially when it was an experiment where you needed to take care of even the most trivial detail. But no pains no gains. I am hopeful that I will be able to finish data collection by the end of the semester! Oh, I should probably stop stealing food from participants’ leftovers.

  1. I gave a short-paper presentation at the 4th Eating Disorder International Conference in London, England on March 17th. The presentation was about another project that our lab (CARE Lab) at Dickinson College worked on as a team. This was my first short paper presentation at an international conference. I am very happy that I made it. Many thanks to Dr. Suman Ambwani and other lab mates.

  1. I’m a month away from my graduation from college. This will be a bittersweet moment! But I am super excited about the new chapter in my life and can’t wait to go back home. I miss China! FYI: Authentic Chinese food is a totally different concept from what you guys have here in the US.

Looking back, I do feel that I was lucky enough to have all the wonderful people and opportunities to support my career [shout-out to Active Minds]. As I begin doing new wonderful things in the future, I will always appreciate the generous help I have received from those people and organizations! Having had the personal experience of benefiting so much from others’ help, I am even more committed to helping people around me with my research and academic endeavors!

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Tips For Presenting Your Research Thu, 07 Apr 2016 12:05:02 +0000 Corey is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Corey and her fellow scholars here.

From March 3-5th I had the privilege of presenting my research at the Eastern Psychological Association’s conference in New York City. After sitting in on countless talks and walking past hundreds of posters I wanted to share some tips for you when you present your own research!

If you’re presenting a poster:

1. Use color! It amazes me how simple this idea is; yet how quickly people forget about it. Colors catch the eye of passers-by and can make someone stop to look at your poster which IS WHAT YOU WANT! Use inviting, complimentary colors instead of colors that clash.

2. Avoid long blocks of text. Bullet points are your best friend and full sentences are your worst enemy. Shorten wherever you can to make your poster easier to read.

3. DO NOT laminate your poster. It makes it difficult to read, especially when walking past.

4. SMILE! Even when you’re awkwardly waiting for someone to come up to you, look enthusiastic about your project and others will reciprocate.

5. Don’t you dare look at your phone. Sure you’ve been standing there for 20 minutes and no one has come up to look at your poster, but that doesn’t mean you need to check Facebook. Put your phone on “do not disturb” and stash it away. 

6. Be prepared with an “elevator speech” that summarizes your study. Give a brief overview so that people don’t have to read everything on your poster, and instead can ask questions.

7. Have print-outs of your poster hanging up. If you’re busy talking to someone, another person can grab a copy and come back later with questions.

8. Bring business cards. One of the best parts of presenting research is the opportunity to talk with other professionals, bounce ideas off each other, and even exchange information for future collaborations. 

9. Invest in a reusable poster tube (preferably one with a strap). You might not think about it until its too late, but you don’t want to have to run to present your poster in the rain and risk it getting wet. 

If you’re giving a speech:

1. If you’re using a PowerPoint, Prezi or any other type of visual aid, DO NOT read straight from it. Print out your notes and never look backwards during your presentation unless you’re pointing something out on a graph.

2. Keep it interesting. You start to lose your audience around 6 minutes, if you go over this time try to plan for a break so people can refocus. 

3. Practice your pacing beforehand. If you think you’re speaking too fast, you probably are. Take a sip of water and count to five before beginning again.

4. Leave time for questions from the audience. If you can, stay after your presentation for a few minutes so people can come up to you personally. 

5. And finally, a few words of wisdom from my mentor, Dr. Moreno: “…remember that you are an expert on your project.”  You know your topic better than anyone else in the room, so act like it.

Take a deep breath and ENJOY the opportunity you’ve been given to share all of your hard work!

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: The Journey Thus Far Tue, 05 Apr 2016 15:47:59 +0000 Alfred is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Alfred and his fellow scholars here.

Today, I am going to show you a sneak peak of my journey up to this point. And let me just say that it has been filled with many highs and lows. (Note: This piece is more personal than academic.)

The following is a compilation of my emotional states and reactions since the start of research process.

  1. Getting into the Education Honors Program (& realizing that a thesis will be written!!). #WHAT

  1. Summer (trying to focus on developing a research project while doing a summer internship and getting nowhere with it). #ShakingMyHead

  1. Jumping right into Bing Honors College, a three week-long program that gives honors students a head start on developing/continuing their thesis projects before the quarter begins. #ReadySetGo

  1. Hesitantly diving into the literature because I’m still uncertain about the direction of my research and feeling overwhelmed. #SOS

  1. Fall Quarter: Facing and overcoming obstacles that were ready to pounce – (a) challenges with IRB, (b) finding and solidifying an on-campus advisor, (c) writing and submitting a 50+ page draft of the first three chapters (introduction, literature review, and methodology), and (d) participant recruitment. #PowerThrough

  1. Winter Break. #Relaxation&Rejuvenation

  1. When selected as an Active Minds Emerging Scholar… #Yay

… And when matched with Professor Corey Keyes! #StillInShock

  1. Solidifying population sample: reducing and deliberating based on a series of variables (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity, first-generation status, socioeconomic background, year, measures of well-being). #DecisionsDecisions

  1. Interviews! Interviews! Interviews! #Incoming #SoManyInterviews

  1. End of Winter Quarter: finals week + lack of sleep + unhealthy eating + stress overload = defeat response #SoMuchWork #Overwhelmed #Breakdown

  1. The Beginning of the End… #CountdownInitiated

In highlighting some of the major points in my journey, I do want to emphasize the wide range of emotions that come with these experiences. I was motivated to do this because based on my experience, the personal process of doing research isn’t something that people talk about. Reflecting on this process plays an important role because there have been times when I have felt defeated and unmotivated to keep moving forward.

However, when I reflect on the process, I feel grounded and reconnected to the purpose of why I am doing this research. It enables me to pause and look back at how far I have come.

With less than two months to go, the end is coming to a close. Will I be able to get there? What lies around the corner? While I don’t have the answers right now, stay tuned! More on this in weeks to come!

Until then.

Take Care and Go Well,


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When Masculinity and Racism Collide: Meet Tao Liu’s Mentor Dr. Christopher Liang Fri, 25 Mar 2016 13:33:51 +0000 Tao is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Tao and her fellow scholars here.

When I talk about racism against Asian American men with my friends, some reactions I got was “Seriously? This is U.S.” Among those who have awareness of racism, it is hard for them to connect racism and gender together. However, when they start talking about difficulties with finding dating partners, they know what I am talking about.

There are not many scholars researching the intersection of racism and masculinity, especially for Asian American men. Luckily, Dr. Chris Liang, one of the few scholars focusing on this research area, agreed to be my National Mentor.

tao mentorDr. Christopher Liang is a former President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity. His research interests center on how perceived racism and masculinity ideologies are associated with the academic, psychological, and physiological health, and health-related behaviors of ethnic minority boys and men. As he said in our conversations, he intends to use research to make positive impacts on communities. He is not a scholar who only lives in the ivory tower, rather, he regards research as a means for intervention on multiple levels.

With his rich experience working with community partners, Dr. Liang has helped to brainstorm how to collaborate with community agencies and offer my research skills as a way to return to them. We have set up regular meeting times through June.

During our conversations, research is not the only topic that we have talked about. In our phone meeting yesterday, we discussed my concerns of my future career directions. He not only helped me figured out all my possible choices, but also gave me very useful tips for job searching and maintaining a good work-life balance. In addition, he gave me recommendations for my research skills development for future academic positions.

He not only helped me figured out all my possible choices, but also gave me very useful tips for job searching and maintaining a good work-life balance. In addition, he gave me recommendations for my research skills development for future academic positions.

How can a mentor be so helpful to someone who he has even never met before? I am looking forward to meeting him in person in the next Active Minds conference!

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The Fantastic Four: Meet Matt Kridel’s Mentors Thu, 17 Mar 2016 16:55:19 +0000 Matt is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Matt and his fellow scholars here.

That’s right, I have not one, not two, but THREE mentors, and all of them bring unique experiences and knowledge to my project. Let me introduce you to them!

matt mentor 1Dr. Daniel Eisenberg is the first of my national mentors. An associate professor at the University of Michigan, he is also the creator of The Healthy Minds Network, where my data is coming from. Dr. Eisenberg is also one of the leading researchers in college student mental health, and frequently cited in the introduction for my project. He’s also previously been a mentor for the Emerging Scholars Program before, and I feel very lucky to have him assisting me!

matt mentor 2Sarah Lipson is my second national mentor, and also a student of Dr. Eisenberg! She is completing her PhD in both public health and education at the University of Michigan and helps to run the Healthy Minds Network. I first got to meet Sarah when she was a presenter at the 2015 Active Minds National Conference and we had wonderful discussions about research and grad school. Not only has Sarah served as a mentor for the Emerging Scholars Program, but she’s an alumna of the 2012 cohort!

matt advisorDr. Ryon McDermott is my advisor for my PhD program and also my On-Campus Advisor. He was a big reason for my coming to South Alabama to study psychology and he’s been incredibly supportive in my pursuit of studying Active Minds. And as if there weren’t enough connections already, Dr. McDermott also completed his post-doc at the University of Michigan! When he’s not busy helping me with my project, he’s playing dad to his newborn son.

As I said before, I feel incredibly lucky to have these incredible mentors, researchers, and supporters of Active Minds helping me with my project. I look forward to all of us meeting together, in person, in June and hopefully continuing our work together for many years to come!

fantastic four

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Meet Cai Guo’s Mentors Fri, 11 Mar 2016 15:26:26 +0000 Cai is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Cai and his fellow scholars here.

Hello again! I’m a few days late, but Happy International Women’s Day!

In honor and celebration of this day, I would like to introduce my two mentors, Dr. Suman Ambwani and Dr. Rebecca Pearl, who have made great contributions to mental health issues that are particularly prevalent among women. Specifically, both of them are experts in the field of weight- and eating-related mental health.

cai advisorDr. Suman Ambwani is my On-Campus Advisor. She is now Associate Professor of Psychology at Dickinson College. She received her B.A. at Macalester College and her PhD from Texas A&M University. Dr. Suman Ambwani is particularly interested in eating disorder and how personality, interpersonal interactions, and social cognition are related to eating disorder. More recently, Dr. Ambwani has also become interested in weight stigma and the means by which we transmit the stigma.

I first heard of Dr. Ambwani from my friends who had taken her Psychopathology class and were all talking about how awesome she was. Later, I heard from another professor that Dr. Ambwani was known as one of the most popular psychology professors at Dickinson, and at that time her lab had the largest number of research assistants on campus.

Since so many people were talking about the awesomeness of Dr. Ambwani and so many students were working with her, she must be a really great person and teacher. Out of curiosity, I started digging more into Dr. Ambwani’s work, and I got more and more interested in her research.

At the end of my Sophomore year, I expressed my interest in working with her as a research assistant in her lab and she accepted me even though she did not need any new assistants at that time (I felt very honored). Since then, I have worked closely with her on a project on college women’s reactions to fat talk and developed the current project on internalization of weight bias.

cai mentorDr. Rebecca Pearl is my National Mentor. She is now Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. She received her B.A. from Duke University and her PhD from Yale University, where I also worked in Summer 2015. Dr. Pearl is interested in weight bias, stigmatization, and the internalization of stigma. She is one of the authors of the Modified Internalization of Weight Bias Scale (WBIS-M), which is the core measure of my project.

I heard of Dr. Pearl when I was researching potential topics for my project. Since I had always been interested in social categories and stigma, I decided to combine both interests to study how people across all weight categories react to weight-based stigma. I then came across Dr. Pearl’s research on internalization of weight bias among normal weight people, which sounded both counterintuitive and very interesting.

After reading Dr. Pearl’s work, I decided to explore the same topic because it would be a great combination of my interests. I reached out to Dr. Pearl on ResearchGate and requested a lot of papers from her. She always responded so promptly and answered all my questions about her work and the topic in general. Her enthusiasm about this topic and willingness to help convinced me that she would be a fantastic mentor for my project.

And then, as you all now know, she generously accepted my request to serve as my national mentor! She has provided me with invaluable feedback regarding my study design and given me a lot of advice regarding what to expect and how I should handle potential difficulties in the process. I am looking forward to having more conversations with and learning more from Dr. Pearl!

I am very grateful that I have met these two wonderful mentors, and I am very confident that with their help, I will gain invaluable experience in the Emerging Scholars Fellowship and in the process of conducting my own project!

Project Update:
I finally started data collection! There’s A LOT OF food involved, and I sometimes steal from participants’ leftovers.


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Meet My Mentor: Dr. Megan Moreno, MD, MPH, MSEd Thu, 03 Mar 2016 15:27:45 +0000 Corey is a researcher in the 2016 class of the Emerging Scholars Fellowship. Read blog updates from Corey and her fellow scholars here.

Dr. MorenoI’ve been lucky enough to be paired with Dr. Megan
Moreno, MD, MPH, MSEd, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Moreno focuses on adolescents and technology use, and her most recent study focuses on self-harm on Instagram.

Originally Dr. Moreno was a pediatrician, where she saw a rise of social media use among her adolescent patients.  With that prevalence of social media use among teens, Dr. Moreno saw many of her patients dealing with cyberbullying, which is why she decided to work so closely with cyberbullying research.  I’m lucky to have someone who is so knowledgeable about cyberbullying to help me whenever I need her!

So far, Dr. Moreno has offered invaluable support and advice.  Knowing that I have someone in my corner, even when she’s 2,000+ miles away in Seattle, is a fantastic feeling.  I’m excited to continue working with Dr. Moreno and to see how she helps my project grow.

Project Update:

I’m officially IRB approved, and I will begin testing my participants when Loyola gets back from spring break!

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