Team of researchers at LU awarded grant to address mental health in Southeast Texas

A team of researchers at Lamar University have been awarded a $45, 000 grant to bolster the team’s outreach initiative on MIND –– mental health intervention, networking and diversion.
Stephan Malick, assistant director of student publications and director of on-campus publication University Press, said he was approached by Dr. Ginger Gummelt, director of Social Work, to brainstorm creating a program that provides effective mental health services for community members referred to the criminal justice system following trauma and disaster events.
“Often, vulnerable populations are at-risk of entering the criminal justice system when they would be better served by mental health services,” Malick said. “Our goal is creating a collaborative working model to bring together Spindletop Center Local Mental Health Authority, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, local judges and defense attorneys, and local school districts.”
By providing services such as diagnosis, medication evaluation, social-emotional learning skills training, case management, advocacy and referral services, the MIND program will offer a diversion to further involvement in the criminal justice system and effectively treat the underlying needs of vulnerable victims of trauma and disasters.
Malick and Gummelt initially met to discuss communication strategy for the program. His role on the team? To assist in creating that strategy and providing outreach and education initiatives to reach primary stakeholders.
“I'm assisting in providing input for communication strategy to reach important responders on how to help residents having a mental health crisis during a severe event like a hurricane or any event that might require residents to evacuate,” Malick said. 
Joining Malick and Gummelt on the research team is Karen Roebuck, instructor of criminal justice; Lori Wright, social work field director; Dr. Mamta Singh, associate professor of education; and Tommy Smith, crisis prevention specialist at Spindletop Center Beaumont.
The team plans to implement work on the project immediately aiming to have a program model by fall of 2023. The funding will assist researchers in collection and analyzing data for the project, but more importantly, fund research student interns from four Lamar University departments — social work, criminal justice, education, and communication and media.
Malick said the project will provide experiential learning environments that impacts Lamar University students academically and professional. He added that the research also will impact the Southeast Texas community and will hopefully serve as a model for other communities.
“We have assembled a strong team of interdisciplinary collaborators from across the campus and that's an important environment for students, and professors, to learn using a variety of knowledge, methods and practices as a team,” he said. “This project isn't just academic research … it will directly impact the community we live in and further better our resilience in meeting challenges of any kind in the future.”