Mexico Hosts PhD Student’s Summer Research

mental health research

Andel Nicasio

While the ports of Mexico are populated by college students on summer vacation, one UCF student set sail to study mental health among Latinos.

Andel Nicasio, a Clinical Psychology PhD student spent 10 weeks in Mexico conducting mental health disparities research.

Nicasio is a recipient of the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) award from the National Institutes of Health/ National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIH/NIMHD).

While in Mexico, Nicasio worked with a graduate from the University of Rochester, Anjalene Whittier, and their mentor, Dr. Steve Lopez from the University of Southern California.

The team conducted a study testing the effectiveness of La Clave (Lopez et al. 2009), a psycho-educational intervention developed to promote early entry into mental health treatment. La Clave (The Clue) uses aspects of Latino culture to explain three symptoms of psychosis which are delusions, disordered speech and hallucinations.

The psycho-educational intervention program was delivered in two different formats. One being a brief online presentation organized into a set of PowerPoint slides including images, audio clips and video clips, which are all explained by a professor. The second was a short film featuring a young woman going through a divorce who begins to experience her first episode of psychosis, and the efforts her family makes to understand the changes.

The participants in the study that Nicasio and her colleagues conducted included over 400 college students from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), the largest university  in Puebla, Mexico.

The results of her research demonstrated that approaches compared to a control group were successful in increasing psychosis literacy among Mexican college students. The evidence supports the claim that psychosis literacy helps promote timely, help-seeking behavior among young adults.

This program that awarded Nicasio is led by the University of Southern California in partnership with the (BUAP) and the National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico.  The faculty of the program is comprised by some of the top Latino mental health researchers in the United States, including Dr. Concepcion Barrio, Dr. Alex Kopelowitcz, Dr. Steve Lopez, Dr. Jodie Ullman, Dr. William Vega, and Dr. Kristin Yarris.

Comments are closed.