The proposed training program will expand and reposition our highly successful pre- and postdoctoral training program in mental health services research with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, and on those receiving services at the intersection between mental health and human (social) services systems. Our current training program, the only one of its kind in a school of social work, addresses the critical need within the social work profession for scholars trained to investigate mental health challenges confronted by clients of social workers on a daily basis. In this renewal, we have expanded the scope of training to include implementation research, have deepened and strengthened our methodological training, have developed a new program administrative structure, have greatly expanded core and affiliated faculty, have enhanced our postdoctoral program, and have implemented new evaluation strategies. Yet, we have retained what we believe are the core strengths of our program - identification of talented students, early immersion into faculty-led research, intensive preparation in grantsmanship, strong expectations of intellectual individuation and the construction of trajectories toward independence, and a close and intensive mentoring process. This program benefits from the extraordinary growth that has occurred at the Brown School in particular, and Washington University in St. Louis in general, over the past 5 years. We now have a public health program within the School, and our national prominence as a University has resulted in even greater engagement of faculty across all 7 of the University's Schools in the training of our T32 scholars. Our students are benefiting from this engagement in, efflorescence of, scholarship at our institution. Consequently, this application is the most transdisciplinary of all applications that we have submitted to the T32 program. We seek support for 2 pre-doctoral students (same as in prior years), but have requested one additional postdoctoral slot (to a total of 2 postdocs per year) in order to exploit added efficiencies that result from having a cohort of trainees, and greater training opportunities that are now manifest within our School and University. We believe that this proposal reflects the experience that we have gained in 20 years of running a T32 program, and reflects the continual learning and quality improvement that we have undertaken, as we train students for an increasingly dynamic and diverse field of inquiry in the years ahead.
This program trains pre- and postdoctoral trainees to acquire advanced research skills that will help them address research questions that ameliorate the challenges faced by the most vulnerable of our nation's residents. Persons who inhabit, and seek care at, the intersection of mental health and human services are characterized by high needs for mental health services. These are also the ones who are least likely to secure needed services, or to obtain services of high quality. Such levels of unmet need can greatly increase the population burden of mental disease, and result in increased morbidity and mortality. Our trainees are ideally situated to mitigate these adverse outcomes by focusing on the most needy of all populations that have mental health challenges.
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