SC CTSI-Supported Scholar Receives Prestigious "Friends Of The Semel Institute Award

Helping reduce the higher mortality rate among people with serious mental illness.

November 05, 2013

Congratulations to Erin Kelly, PhD, one of the scholars supported by the SC CTSI Community Engagement program. Kelly was awarded a $100,000 two-year fellowship from UCLA’s Friends of the Semel Institute Scholar Program. The program supports fellows and junior faculty who focus on advancing the treatment of mental illness.

With the award, Kelly will complete a two-phase study that will explore the impact of guiding consumers with serious mental illnesses (SMI) to access information on their health and mental health in their electronic mental health record. This access will be used in conjunction with skills training (through a previously pilot tested peer health navigation intervention) to pilot test whether these combined interventions can bolster the health of this vulnerable population. Medical providers and mental health providers will also be interviewed before and after this pilot trial to gather information about the feasibility of improving communication via technology. 

Erin Kelly, PhD

Kelly is currently one of four postdoctoral scholars being supported through a two-year Mental Health Scholar Program. The program is jointly sponsored by SC CTSI at USC and CHLA, the CTSI at UCLA and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

SC CTSI's Research Navigator Holly Kiger, RN, MN, is one of the mentors. She works with Kelly and the other scholars to help coordinate and implement their research activities, providing ongoing consultations and in-kind support to their projects.  

Since her fellowship began in July 2012, Kelly has been working with John Brekke, PhD, from the USC School of Social Work on a newly developed Health Navigator Project, also called “The Bridge”. 

The Bridge is a peer-staffed comprehensive healthcare engagement and self-management model, situated in an outpatient mental health clinic, where clients are taught the skills to access and manage their healthcare. It is designed for people with SMI to help improve their access to and utilization of physical health care services.

The ultimate goal is to provide the field a peer-delivered intervention that helps reduce the higher mortality rate among people with SMI, whose mortality rate is two to three times that of the general population.

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