Hughes awarded $91K for new approach to mood-related distress in young people

Assistant Professor Shannon Hughes will lead the development and evaluation of a new program to address mental health care for young adults, without the use of psychotropic drugs.

Shannon Hughes, assistant professor in Colorado State University’s School of Social Work and assistant professor in the Colorado School of Public Health, is advancing drug-free perspectives in mental health care for young adults.

Hughes is one of six recipients of a one-year grant from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. The $91,596 grant will fund the delivery and evaluation of the Learning & Self-development Collaborative, a multi-pronged approach for supporting young adults, ages 18-26, who are experiencing intense or extreme mood-related distress, without the use of psychiatric diagnostic labels or medication.

As part of the foundation’s Expanding the Science and Practice of Recovery-Based Mental Health Care and Supports grant program, the award is geared towards effecting cultural and system change, care innovation, and “slow psychiatry,” a term used for a current movement to reconsider the use of psychiatric drugs.

“The aim is to shift conversation away from an exclusively medical understanding of mental and emotional distress, towards a holistic, self-development approach that values body, mind, social connections, and spirituality,” said Hughes.

Over the course of the Learning and Self-development Collaborative, young adults will participate in critical, consciousness-raising psychoeducation, along with peer support groups, counseling on nutrition and lifestyle, and opportunities to form social links in the community.

“This project will support young adults in re-framing their experiences,” said Audrey Shillington, director of CSU’s School of Social Work. “It will facilitate honest conversations about mind and selfhood, and provide opportunities for young people to form critical support networks.”

The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.