ETSU Ballad Health Strong BRAIN Institute Advances Education and Research | ACCENT
JOHNSON CITY – Over the past year, East Tennessee State University / Ballad Health Strong BRAIN Institute directors have worked to develop infrastructure, provide education and training, and expand research with the goal of increasing trauma-informed citizens and workers everywhere promote the region.
The Strong BRAIN (Building Resilience through ACEs-Informed Networking) Institute was founded by Ballad Health and ETSU in 2020 to advance awareness and research of ACEs or unwanted childhood experiences that can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental and physical health Life.
The Strong BRAIN Institute is headed by founding director Dr. Wallace E. Dixon Jr., Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at ETSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, and recently brought on two full-time research fellows for months.
Dr. Rochelle Hentges, assistant professor, focuses on children’s outcomes in the context of early adversity, especially within the family, a statement said. She examines some of the risk and resistance factors that either encourage higher risk or act as a buffer in adverse environments. She is also interested in the developmental processes and mechanisms that explain why early adversity affects child development, as well as the intergenerational transmission of maternal mental health and maternal ACEs to child mental health and wellbeing.
Hentges joined ETSU from the University of Calgary’s Department of Psychology, where she completed a postdoctoral fellowship. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh after completing her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Rochester. Hentges has received numerous awards for her research and has been published in journals such as Child Development, Development and Psychopathology, Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, British Journal of Educational Psychology, and others. She also has a book chapter on “Developmental Perspectives of Parenthood” to be published in the upcoming Oxford Handbook on Evolutionary Psychology and Parenting.
Benjamin Schönberg, Research Services Coordinator, is a public health professional with 10 years of experience in health advice, direct service, program evaluation, care coordination, project management, analysis and more. Previously, he was a program coordinator and professional instructor at Aspire Youth and Family and worked with the juvenile justice system in Western North Carolina. He also worked as a health and disease prevention specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson Outpatient Wellness Centers in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. He holds a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health and the Mountain Area Health Education Center.
A bevy of experts was formed to serve as contributors to the Strong BRAIN Institute. This includes faculty members from all academic colleges at ETSU – College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business and Technology, Clemmer College, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Gatton College of Pharmacy and College of Public Health – together with independent consultants and HR specialists. In addition to participating in the institute’s strategic planning, these individuals also participate in teams focused on curriculum development and looking for ways to move ETSU into a trauma-informed institution.
Dixon and other members of the institute have already started delivering trauma awareness and resilience training across the community, the statement said. They have given presentations to numerous regional government agencies and civic groups, and run virtual “town halls” for both the ETSU community and the public, focusing on resilience issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the Strong BRAIN Institute contributors, a community advisory board was formed with representatives from a variety of sectors, such as: B. Local Government, K-12 Education, Higher Education, Business, Law / Justice, Legislation, Faith, Health Care, and others. Members of the institute are working on the development of new training modules specially tailored to these sectors.
Dixon says that one of the biggest things the Strong BRAIN Institute has worked on over the past year is an interdisciplinary scholarship project led by Dr. Diana Morelen from the Department of Psychology is to develop training in trauma for the entire Gatton College of Pharmacy. With the support of Dr. Debbie Byrd, dean of the college, the Strong BRAIN Institute staff work with administrators, faculty, staff and students.
“We want to do the science – not just the training – and we are trying to assess whether it matters that we did the training,” Dixon said in the press release. “Is something changing? Feel better? We’ll be doing assessments throughout the summer, and maybe the feedback we’re getting from the College of Pharmacy can give us some insight into trauma information across the university. “
Dixon said that while the Department of Counseling and Human Services at ETSU’s Clemmer College has a minor in trauma and resilience, he wants to develop a curriculum that engages and engages students in a variety of fields of study.
“We want to develop opportunities in the general education curriculum that students in all majors could be interested in,” said Dixon. “Students may think, ‘Why should I want to learn about trauma? That sounds terrible. ‘ So we have to think about how we can design the program in such a way that it also addresses courses that are far outside the traditional trauma-interested disciplines such as psychology, counseling or social work. What will make a math student interested in this? How do we win a physics or engineering degree? “
In addition, the Strong BRAIN Institute staff is reviewing the provisions of the recent American Rescue Plan Act to see if the law provides for federal funding opportunities that the institute would be qualified to qualify for, and physical room renovations are being made to house and provide room for staff for activities.
Dixon identified a room near the Psychology Department in Rogers-Stout Hall for this purpose. The renovation itself is done according to trauma-informed principles, including the creation of bright rooms, natural tones, and themed wall coverings that encourage calm and relaxation.
“Introduction to ACEs, Use of Trauma-Informed Approaches, and Fostering Resilience,” an online professional development course suitable for individuals in a variety of fields, is currently available through the ETSU Ballad Health Strong BRAIN Institute and the Office of Continuing Medical Education from ETSU available from Quillen College of Medicine.
Open to all, this course, which is open to all, provides an overview of ACEs and teaches how trauma and resilience-informed approaches can promote better health and wellbeing for individuals, workplaces, and the wider community. It is an undergraduate degree and a requirement for future training opportunities in areas such as K-12 and higher education, police, healthcare, and more. To learn more or to sign up, visit https://bit.ly/3vwagCM.