Focus on Mental Health – Two Crown Family School Faculty Receive Awards from NIMH

By Crown Family School

News Type
Crown Family School News

Professors Yoonsun Choi and Leyla Ismayilova have each been awarded major funding by the National Institute of Mental Health for their research examining Asian American and child mental health disparities and interventions. 

Professor Yoonsun Choi received $3.6 million in funding to support research that examines an upward trend of mental health problems among young Asian Americans (AAs). This trend, largely understudied, has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, increased racial tensions, and a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes. This funding will build on Choi’s current, highly successful Midwest Longitudinal Study of Asian American Families (MLSAAF), which substantiated a troubling increase in mental health struggles as youth transitioned to early young adulthood. 

By expanding this research, Choi’s research team will leverage the existing MLSAAF data to follow the original samples from adolescence into their twenties. Their work will investigate family dynamics, minority stress, and cultural factors across life events, and more accurately assess and test the biological, physical, and psychological harms of chronic stress experienced among AAs.  

Associate Professor Leyla Ismayilova received $3.2 million in funding from NIMH for research that targets a global mental health challenge, Ismayilova’s research team will study children aged 7-14 from low-income families in Azerbaijan who have experienced adversity, poverty, and prolonged trauma and mistreatment. While there are effective interventions aimed at individual, family, and structural-level factors, it is unknown how these interventions interact and complement each other, or whether their effects can be synergistic. 

Using a sample of 600 child-caregiver dyads, the research will refine and test three-evidence-based interventions on the children’s mental health outcomes and their cognitive and social processes, and any mediating pathways among the interventions. If successful, Ismayilova hopes the results can inform reforms implemented by the Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, and other organizations in Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet countries.