Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Grant Activity: Current Activity Impacting Communities

Meet the 2018 Emerging Scholars

Andre Banerjee

Project Title: Beyond the Therapeutic: Addressing Mental Health Through Landscape

Bio: Andre Banerjee is a senior at The Ohio State University majoring in landscape architecture. He is interested in how we as humans interact with the built environment and how design can be used as a medium to address different issues. He is the president of the Active Minds chapter at Ohio State. He decided to become a mental health advocate because he first experienced mental illness and one of the hardest times of his life as a freshman in college. After a long recovery period seeing therapists, counselors, and the help of family and friends, he wants to help those who were or are struggling. As a self-described visual and design-oriented person, landscape architecture appealed to Andre as a way to combine his interests to hopefully make an impact, even if it is small, for the future.

Project Description: This project is focused on how the design of the outdoor built environment on college campuses influences mental health. Andre seeks to uncover what specific features of the landscape and built environment contribute to feelings of fear and anxiety. Through field drawings and interviews, he will compare what conditions students are either drawn to or detracted from because of negative feelings that they evoke. From this information, he will present his findings to counselors at Ohio State and ask for their feedback to influence a) spaces where counselors meet students for treatment or recommend students spend time as part of their treatment and b) future plans to create spaces that could be used in conjunction with treatment.

Bryanna Jones

Project Title: Forging a Space of Our Own: The Impact of Affinity Housing on the Psychological Wellbeing of Black Students

Bio: As a third-year student at Ursinus College and the 2017 Teagle Diversity Fellow, Bryanna Jones conducted independent research on the ways in which affinity housing impacts the psychological well being of Black students on predominantly white campuses. Her research underscored the importance of physical safe spaces for ethnic-racial minority groups. Bryanna is also a lab manager of Dr. Vanessa Volpe’s Health Experience Across the Lifespan (HEAL) lab. In her campus community, Bryanna serves as a Writing Fellow and Program coordinator for the African American and Africana Studies house where she coordinates events related to the theme for the entire campus community. Ms. Jones plans to continue her work as a Clinical Psychologist.

Project Description: Her project will take a strengths-based approach (Coghlan & Brydon–Miller, 2014), drawing upon not only the challenges facing Black students but the strengths they bring when coping with racially insensitive experiences in higher education; in order to better understand how to support their college experience. The project will address three overarching questions: 1) In what ways does residence in affinity housing shape students’ sense of community? 2) In what ways does residence in affinity housing shape students’ racial identity? 3) In what ways does residence in affinity housing shape students’ perceptions of safety?

Brian Keum

Bruce C. Abrams Foundation Scholar
Project Title: The Impact of Storytelling on Men’s Psychological Help-seeking Attitudes: The Effects of Online Video


Bio: Brian Keum is a fourth-year counseling psychology Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland-College Park. He and his advisor Dr. Matthew J. Miller are examining mental health correlates (e.g., coping self-efficacy) of racism, attitudes toward seeking medical and psychological help, health-related issues of the elderly population, and research on acculturation processes. Brian is particularly interested in examining the often-overlooked experiences of marginalization in training, health, and other aspects. His goal is to apply multicultural and social justice lenses to illuminate counselor training models that are applicable to counselor trainees of color as most original models have been developed from a European American perspective.

Project Description: The aim of the proposed study is to harness the potential of storytelling and test the efficacy of a brief, online video intervention for reducing men’s self-stigmatizing beliefs and promoting positive psychological help-seeking attitudes. Specifically, he will test the hypotheses that the video intervention, as compared to a control condition (no video) and a “standard practice” condition (information-based brochure on men’s depression; Hammer & Vogel, 2010), is more effective at reducing stigma and promoting positive help-seeking attitudes among men.

Meghana Nallajerla

Project Title: Perceptions of Depression in South Asian Immigrants

Bio: Meghana Nallajerla is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying psychology and gender, sexuality, and women's studies. Through her academics and activism, she has worked to empower South Asian communities, while also bringing an interdisciplinary approach to her field. Her research has especially been informed by a desire to bridge the gap between academia and the grassroots community. As an aspiring Clinical Psychologist, she hopes to continue this research by working with South Asian immigrants to deliver culturally-appropriate psychotherapy. Ultimately, she aims to lay the groundwork for building effective therapeutic interventions that are culturally accessible to South Asian immigrants through understanding what South Asian immigrant communities find appropriate and accessible.

Project Description: Through this project, Meghana aims to understand the relationship between migration, acculturation, and perceptions of depression in first and second generation South Asian immigrants. Immigrants, despite being some of the fastest growing communities in the United States, are often the least studied. Given that this is a rapidly expanding population that is also at greater risk for disorders such as depression, it is important to understand their perceptions and build foundational knowledge on Asian/immigrant communities so that appropriate cultural interventions may be furthered. This will be done through quantitative data collection, analysis, and presentation.

Tolulope Ola

Stephen C. Rose Legacy Scholar
Project Title: Matters of the Mind: Exploring African Immigrant/Refugee Youths Mental Health using Photovoice Strategy

Bio: Tolulope Ola holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Demography and Social Statistics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Master of Science degree in Medical Sociology and a PhD in Population Studies from University of Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. Recently, Tolulope earned a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Public Health from Argosy University, Twin Cities in Eagan, Minnesota, and is pursuing a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Marriage & Family Therapy at the same university. The emphasis of her research is on the interface of health and human rights, drawing on the disciplines of public health and population studies while her recent research has focused on integrating psychosocial issues, cultural values, and rights into sustainable management of chronic diseases.

Project Description: Tolulope will research whether or not African Immigrant/Refugee youths’ conceptualization and perception of mental health have any effect on their mental health. She will use the Social Ecological Framework to frame the research and analyze the results to determine whether any effect influences the youths' level of functioning.

Ashley Villarta

Bruce C. Abrams Foundation Scholar
Project Title: The Science of Burnout and How to Prevent It

Bio: Ashley Villarta is a post-baccalaureate student at CSU East Bay Pre-Professional Health Program, intending to become a physician. Ashley first became interested in mental health after developing depression during her undergraduate years at University of California, Berkeley. Since then, she has addressed her illness head-on, studying Neurobiology and Conflict Resolution. She is now a suicide counselor for Crisis Support Services of Alameda County, Co-Executive Director for CSU East Bay’s Peace of Mind Mental Health Organization and a participant in Stanford’s Leadership Education for Aspiring Physicians Program. She intends on using her platforms in order to create workshops throughout the Bay Area to promote, educate, and help those struggling with mental illness. She hopes to inspire people to realize that their mental illness does not have to be a weakness nor a limit to the things that they can accomplish.

Project Description: The project will research the ways in which burnout and chronic stress affect the brain and body physiologically and the social factors/social determinants of burnout. The research will also focus on the different treatments, coping strategies, and therapies for combatting burnout. Based on the research, Ashley plans to create workshops for the Bay Area that promote self-care and increase awareness about burnout.

The Active Minds Emerging Scholars Fellowship is generously supported by the Scattergood Foundation for Behavioral Health. We would also like to thank the Steve Fund and Bruce C. Abrams Foundation for their generous support of three scholars.