News & Announcements

The “Double Stigma” Faced by Adolescent Mexican-American Mothers with Depression

Posted: December 15, 2017

Every year, the Hogg Foundation gives the Frances Fowler Wallace Memorial Award for Mental Health Dissertation Research to eligible doctoral candidates at The University of Texas at Austin. Awardees receive a scholarship to help cover research-related expenses.

Hogg sat down with a recent recipient, Pamela Recto, who is a doctorate student at the School of Nursing. Her research proposal is titled “Mental Health Literacy of Mexican-American Adolescents: Examining their Knowledge and Attitudes about Perinatal Depression.”

Hogg: What are you trying to accomplish with your research, and what implications do you hope it will have for those living with perinatal depression?

Recto: My goal is to identify contextual factors that impede or facilitate help-seeking and recognition of perinatal depression. My findings may potentially guide practice and research in developing more effective, culturally relevant interventions, with an emphasis on mental health literacy. 

Hogg: How did your academic and professional nursing experiences inform your decision to research this topic?

As a registered nurse and previous clinical faculty residing in South-Central Texas, I have served diverse populations—particularly, Mexican-Americans. My experience as a maternal-child nurse deepened my understanding and desire to advocate for young mothers.

During my time as clinical faculty, a fellow colleague and I piloted a wellness program at an alternative high-school for parenting and pregnant adolescents. Our students and I gained an appreciation of the day-to-day challenges faced by adolescent mothers and acquired a broader understanding of their health care needs. It was through this experience that I gained considerable interest in mental health literacy among Mexican-American adolescents. 

Hogg: In your view, what is mental health literacy and why is it essential?

Mental health literacy is an individual’s knowledge and beliefs about mental health disorders. It is an important component of promoting positive maternal health outcomes because it empowers the mother to not only gain knowledge, but also seek assistance and early treatment.

Adolescent mothers are especially susceptible to perinatal depression because of the unique contextual factors they face. Examining their knowledge and beliefs will help identify gaps and facilitate services that would prevent or manage their depression.

Hogg: What barriers exist that prevent Mexican-American adolescents from increasing their mental health literacy? 

Mexican-American adolescent mothers I have interviewed wish that health care providers would have given them information about depression during pregnancy. Supplying them with necessary information sooner rather than later would have facilitated help-seeking during the perinatal period.

Additionally, adolescent mothers were reluctant to discuss depression with health care providers because they did not make a concerted effort to establish rapport. They described health appointments as feeling rushed, and therefore hesitated to bring up mental health issues. As a result, most resorted to coping with depression on their own, or seeking advice from family members or peers.

Interestingly, these mothers emphasized a “double stigma” that comes from experiencing adolescent pregnancy and depression. They feared others would think they were incapable of taking care of themselves and their baby because of depression, especially if they were already being judged for having a baby at a young age.

Hogg: How will your research contribute to or improve the limited literature on pregnant and postpartum Mexican-American adolescents concerning perinatal depression? 

Previous studies on perinatal depression have primarily focused on adult women, and only a few studies focused on Mexican-Americans. Cultural beliefs and values shape how individuals view mental health disorders, and I hope that my findings will elucidate how these factors influence Mexican-American adolescents’ perception of perinatal depression and help-seeking.


NNEDLearn 2018 Applications Deadline Extended to December 22!

Posted: December 14, 2017

Get ready for another exciting year of NNEDLearn!  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) invites NNED members to participate in the NNED’s eighth annual training opportunity, NNEDLearn 2018.

NNEDLearn is a unique opportunity to build skills in evidence-supported and culturally appropriate clinical, consumer, and organizational practices.  The NNEDLearn training model supports the implementation of new practices and programs in communities by training teams through in-person instruction and “virtual” communities of practice.  Five training tracks will be offered this year.  

SAMHSA's Commitment

The on-site portion of the training will occur April 15-18, 2018 at Tamaya Hyatt in Santa Ana Pueblo, NM.  Recognizing the need for continued capacity building and practitioner development in our communities, SAMHSA will cover the costs of training, travel, and lodging for the on-site training for NNEDLearn 2018 participants.

Expected NNED Member Commitment

Our experience shows that the commitment from organizational leadership maximizes the benefits to participants, agencies, communities, and to SAMHSA. Applicants will be asked to verify support from agency leadership or supervisors to commit to full and active participation in all 4 phases of the NNEDLearn 2018 training model.  

Applications are now open! Limited Enrollment. The submission deadline has been extended to December 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm PST.  

Prior to Applying

How to Apply

Applications for each training track can be accessed on the NNEDLearn page. Organizations may only apply to one track. An organizational application should be completed by an identified Team Leader that includes the names of each proposed team member. Teams should consist of 3-5 people.

Each proposed team member must be a NNED member to participate in NNEDLearn 2018. Not yet a NNED member? Become a NNED member today!

Middle School Students Confront American Indian Stereotypes

Posted: December 14, 2017

When Lewis and Clark Middle School eighth-graders prepared questions for a panel of American Indian educators, Jacie Jeffers offered some advice. “It’s a no-holds-barred kind of thing,” said Jeffers, a School District 2 American Indian Education Achievement Coach.

Students heeded her words, and got honest answers from Carolyn Rusche, a longtime educator and current American Indian Education coach for SD2; Autumn Whiteman, a home-to-school coordinator; and Walter Runsabove, who previously worked for SD2 Indian education.

“We have different perspectives on a lot of your questions,” Runsabove said. “If you think it’s offensive, ask it.”

Do you prefer to be called Indian or Native American?

Runsabove compared the labels to terms like Italian-American or African-American, arguing that they don’t really reflect the origins of American Indians. “I like the term indigenous,” he said.

“I don’t really feel strongly either way,” said Whiteman, noting that she prefers American Indian.

When Rusche was younger, she said she didn’t like being identified as an Indian, whose main representation in popular culture was through cowboys vs. Indians movies. “Indians were the bad people,” she said.

Someone told me Indians are inherently alcoholics and poor.

“I think it’s just a stereotype,” said Whiteman. “There are some people that are like that … I think you’ve just got to talk to people and meet people and find the truth.”

Rusche cited experience working in alcoholism treatment, and that genetic factors can make some people more susceptible to alcoholism. She also pointed out historical factors. “Their lands were taken away, their food was taken away,” she said, and diseases like smallpox killed up to 90 percent of American Indians by some estimates. “When you have to deal with the loss of a loved one … it’s traumatic,” she said. “A lot of times when people are trying to deal with trauma, they turn to alcohol.” Rusche, who doesn’t drink, said that American Indians who aren’t alcoholics still struggle against the stereotype. “I have a lot of people that think because I don’t drink, I’m an alcoholic. I’ve never been an alcoholic.”

What do you think about the Washington Redskins?

Whiteman thought such mascots were cool when she was young, but has since changed her position. “Having a mascot as a Native person has unintended consequences,” she said. ”If there’s going to be no understanding behind it, or respect, then I’m not OK with it.”

Rusche agreed with Whiteman, but it wasn’t a problem for Runsabove. “I don’t care about sports mascot issues,” he said. He actually has some family ties to the creation of the Redskins logo, he said. “Why can’t we have that focus, and help my dad, who has diabetes,” Runsabove said. “I’d rather argue more for a health care system than a mascot.”

Read more from the classroom session at

Historically Black Institutions Making & Innovation Showcase (Register by Dec 22)

Posted: December 13, 2017

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, with funding from the National Science Foundation, will support students and faculty from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to participate in the Making & Innovation Showcase. The showcase will coincide with the Emerging Researchers Network Conference (ERN) and take place on February 22-24, 2018 at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C.  The showcase is designed to provide an opportunity for students to showcase the talent and innovation at their institution.

Participants will receive a travel award that covers the ERN conference registration fee, housing, airfare, and ground transportation.

Students will design and implement prototypes using hardware and software to address one of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Structure: Student teams (3-5 students and a faculty, staff, or administrator) will be tasked with identifying a problem in their local community that addresses one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The challenge will have 2 phases, ideation and implementation. All team members must register for the competition by Dec 22, 2017.  Teams will be notified of acceptance by December 29, 2017.

Sign Up: Dec 1 – Dec 22. Teams interested in participating will complete the online registration. One team member should upload a 2-page PDF or Power Point presentation.  The project idea document should describe the project and the team members. Details should include who the team is, what the project does, who the project is for, and how the project addresses one of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Projects can be new designs or ones developed in the previous academic year. Teams will be notified of acceptance by December 29, 2017.

Complete Registration: Dec 29 – Jan 12. Accepted team members will be required to complete the ERN registration process.

Implementation: Jan 12 – Feb 9.  Teams submit a 2-minute pitch video. The entire team should appear on camera to deliver the presentation. The presentation should include details about the problem identified, the solution design, the team members, and show the prototyped solution. Teams may also submit an updated project idea document (described above).

Making & Innovation Showcase: February 22 – 24, 2018. Teams who complete the registration and submit their video will be invited to participate in the Making & Innovation Showcase. The judges, using pre-set criteria, will judge presented projects. Students will also participate in workshops to gain fundraising, intellectual property, and marketing skills to further the development of their projects.

Learn more and register with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Asian American Women have Tough Time Seeking Help for Eating Disorders

Posted: December 13, 2017

Young Asian American women tend to have cultural and family influences that discourage them from seeking help for eating disorders, according to new research led by Yuying Tsong, Cal State Fullerton associate professor in human services.

Compared with a general population with eating disorders, young Asian American women displayed some common themes, the study found, including:

  • Lack of knowledge of eating disorders, which extended to their parents
  • Lack of knowledge of treatment available or how to seek treatment

The study is one of few in eating disorder literature to examine Asian Americans in particular, Tsong said; most focus on white Americans. But what research there is indicates that while Asian Americans are at equal risk for eating disorders, they are often misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed. “So there is a stereotype that Asian American women don’t have as many eating disorders as white women do,” Tsong said. 

Compounding matters is the fact that Asian Americans are half as likely as white Americans to seek mental health services in general, a 2016 review of studies on the subject showed.

The latest research builds on a study published in 2011 by the two women, who led a team that collected observations from 12 therapists with expertise in eating disorders. The therapists viewed Asian American clients as being under considerably more pressure to be thin and to achieve, compared with clients across all cultures. Parents strongly encouraged thinness, perhaps influenced by the belief that it was key to their daughters’ success in the United States. Most of these clients were first- and second-generation and still in the stressful process of acculturation. The messages they were receiving, according to the 2011 study, were to adapt to the U.S. mainstream through professional success; conform to Asian gender standards; not embarrass family by being other than very thin; and attract the best possible mate. At the same time, the young women were required by respect for their elders to not reject food offered to them.

Eating disorders offered the young women a way to cope with this stress by emotionally disconnecting or expressing distress covertly. Many of the therapists surveyed, most of whom are also Asian American, said treatment included helping parents understand notions of individuation, privacy and boundaries, and explain that while these are Western concepts, they exist in Asia too.

The 2011 study cites 2001 research on ethnic minority women that sounds like a psychological Catch-22: The more acculturated to Western culture they were, the greater the likelihood of eating disorders; and the less acculturated, the more cultural conflict and stress, and the greater the likelihood of eating disorders.

But there was little research done on the barriers that Asian American women experience when they seek help for eating disorders, what keeps them engaged in treatment and reasons for stopping treatment early.

So Tsong and Smart, along with three students in the Department of Counseling, recruited Asian Americans who had experienced disordered eating behaviors or body image concerns.  The final sample totaled 212 participants with an average age of just under 25, including students at Cal State Fullerton. About three quarters were female, and a little more than half were second-generation. The team categorized barriers preventing the students from seeking mental health services into personal, social, structural, stigma, beliefs and mental health literacy.

Read more about the study and its findings on The Orange Country Register website.

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