SMU’s Kouros receives Hogg Foundation grant to study children’s mental health

Study will examine ethnic differences in the identification of and attributions about children’s depression symptoms

Chrystyna D. Kouros, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Southern Methodist University, received a $19,250 grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to examine ethnic differences in the identification of and attributions about children’s depression symptoms.

The research project by Kouros was one of 10 selected from a pool of 38 applicants from 17 universities across Texas. The foundation awarded the two-year grants, totaling $192,130, to tenure-track assistant professors exploring different aspects of mental health in Texas.

The study by Kouros, who will be collaborating with Naomi Ekas, Texas Christian University Department of Psychology, will examine ethnic differences in the way that parents and children identify depressive symptoms, and their attributions about depression, as predictors of whether children receive treatment. The overarching goal of the research is to understand barriers to seeking treatment for depression in Hispanic youth.

“Depression in childhood is prevalent and poses a significant public health problem,” said Kouros. “Hispanic youth, in particular, report higher levels of depression and are at greater risk for suicide than non-Hispanic whites and other ethnic groups, yet they are less likely to seek treatment from a mental health practitioner and often receive poorer quality of care.”

Study fills important void to address staggering rates of untreated childhood depression
“Rates of untreated childhood depression are staggering,” Ekas adds. “I believe our study will fill an important void in understanding why Hispanic and non-Hispanic children with mental health challenges do not seek treatment even when community resources are available.”

The goals of the Hogg grants are to increase the pool of junior faculty doing quality mental health research and to encourage the disbursement of research findings through presentations at state and national conferences and meetings.

“Fifty to 80 percent of children in need of services never receive treatment or utilize community mental health resources,” said Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation. “This research fills an important gap in the literature. Previous research on attributions of child symptoms has typically focused on children’s behavioral challenges or physical health, but has not looked at ethnicity as a moderating factor.”

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. — The University of Texas at Austin

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