Dr. De Luca receives Hogg Foundation grant

AUSTIN, Texas – Three assistant professors at The University of Texas at Austin have received grants from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to conduct research studying various aspects of mental health.

These three research projects were among 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.

Dr. Susan De Luca, School of Social Work, was awarded a grant of $19,250 to conduct a mixed-methods study of adolescents receiving treatment, in response to suicide attempts, at a large Central Texas hospital. The study will consist of a systematic review of adolescents’ medical charts along with consumer focus groups designed to gain an understanding of the factors leading to their suicide attempts, their perceptions of treatment effectiveness and appropriateness, and their prescribed follow-up care in the community.

“Reported adolescent suicide attempts in Texas are higher than the national average, especially among Latinas, who report the highest rates of attempts compared to their non-Hispanic white and African American peers,” said De Luca. “This study will provide medical staff adolescent risk profiles to aid in suicide risk assessment.”

Dr. Andreana Haley, Department of Psychology, was awarded a grant of $19,250 to investigate whether stress, depression and anxiety may worsen cognitive vulnerability for people who are carriers for herpes simplex 1 virus (HSV-1). This study is particularly relevant to minority communities, where HSV-1 is acquired earlier in life and prevalence rates are higher: 50 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 68 percent for African Americans and 81 percent for Mexican Americans.

“The study funded by the Hogg Foundation will expand the focus of our work to include the important contribution of psychosocial and mental health factors to the development of cognitive vulnerability,” said Haley. “It is a natural extension of our work aimed towards developing interventions to foster successful aging.”

Dr. Delida Sanchez, Department of Educational Psychology, was awarded a grant of $19,250 to examine the effects of Latino cultural values on the relationship between depression and high-risk sexual behaviors among Latina adolescents in Texas.

“I hope that this study will contribute to the overall effort to increase cultural responsiveness to the mental health needs of minority adolescent girls,” said Sanchez. “I am grateful to the Hogg Foundation for helping to open up this avenue of research.”

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.

“These projects directly address the need for ethnically and racially appropriate mental health care and the importance of integrated health care, a key priority for the the foundation,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation.

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.