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Aneni and Lowell Selected as 2023 Viola B. Bernard Prize Winners

October 05, 2023

Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) Assistant Professor Uche Aneni and Associate Research Scientist Amanda Lowell have been selected as awardees of the 2023 Viola W. Bernard Prize in Social Innovation in Mental Health Care Delivery.

Supported by the Viola W. Bernard Fund for Innovation in Mental Health Care, established in 2015, the Viola W. Bernard Prize recognizes innovative work at the YCSC that benefits children, youth, and families facing economic or social adversity. This can include those who identify as female, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, persons with disabilities, or LGBTQIA+.

A $25,000 prize was first announced in 2022, with the goal of supporting pilot testing of an innovative model in a community setting; and encouraging rapid prototyping, implementation, and testing of potential new mental health care delivery models for the target population.

In addition to fully funding one award up to $25,000, a promising application is selected to receive a smaller award of up to $5,000 to support the portion of the application that upholds principles of design justice.

In May 2023, applications were invited from YCSC community members enrolled in the YCSC social work, psychiatry, or psychology clinical training programs or serving as lecturers, instructors, or assistant professors in the department. Aneni and Lowell were notified as winners of this year’s awards in September.

Aneni’s proposal, titled “Bridging gaps in accessing care: A digital platform for adolescents on the waitlist for mental health services” and selected for the main prize of $25,000, is focused on implementing digital single-session interventions among adolescents on the waitlist for services at outpatient mental health clinics.

As noted in Aneni’s proposal, “It is crucial for the implementation of evidence-based interventions to be grounded in the information gleaned from end-users and to understand factors that may function as barriers and facilitators to participating in a waitlist intervention. By centering the voices of parents and adolescents, we will increase the likelihood of successful implementation and sustainability of waitlist interventions.”

Lowell’s proposal, titled “Adaptation of an evidence-based parenting intervention: How should we support the intersectional experiences of Black and Latina mothers with Opioid Use Disorder?” and selected for design justice support in the amount of $5,000, is focused on a project to inform the adaptation of the “Mothering from the Inside Out” (MIO) intervention for Black and Latina mothers.

Lowell plans to gather focus groups to center the voices of Black and Latina mothers with lived experience of parenting while being in treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). As outlined her proposal, “An advisory panel will ensure an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process with patients and staff at local treatment programs serving mothers with OUD in the New Haven community.”

This year’s review committee was comprised of YCSC faculty members Carla Stover, Wan-Ling Tseng, and Tara Davila. The review was conducted using an NIH Study section format, with two main reviewers providing written critiques and all members scoring the applications. All applicants will be provided detailed feedback that will enhance their future research funding applications.

These awards provide critical opportunities for child mental health fellows and faculty early in their careers to receive grant awards and establish themselves as researchers who center the voices of those they wish to serve by incorporating design justice principles.

YCSC Vice Chair for DEI Tara Davila
Submitted by Crista Marchesseault on October 03, 2023