Psychology Department Welcomes New Students with Open House

On October 2nd, faculty joined with both new and returning students to enjoy some apple cider and cookies for the Psychology Department Open House. Some of the littlest offsprings of the faculty even enjoyed some cider. Welcome to Saint Anselm College, freshman Psychology majors!

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Seniors Present Thesis Research at Annual Poster Presentation

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By Abigail Mark, '18

There are a number of words Saint Anselm College seniors, by nature, are less than fond of. These include, but are not limited to, the words graduation, job, and leaving. An additional member of this word list is thesis, and senior Psychology  majors in particular become quite acquainted with its meaning. By the final days of their senior year, students know their thesis – a topic they have chosen and usually one they are passionate about – like the back of their hand. The knowledge gained from each project is put on display, quite literally, at a poster session during which students present their theses to faculty, staff, and students across the college. This year’s poster session took place on April 27 and was, as always, a great success.

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The work leading up to each thesis poster is immense. Seniors choose their topic for an independent, original research project sometimes as early as their junior year. IMG_1016Noelle Michaud, ’18, began her work with Professor Troisi in the department’s animal lab prior to even thinking about her senior thesis, and ended up choosing her topic based on this experience. Thesis ideas are pitched formally to Psychology Department faculty in a presentation, and faculty provide guidance to the student about how to improve their idea and design. From there, the student typically chooses one faculty member to act as a mentor IMG_5145throughout the entirety of the project. Many seniors then send an application outlining the details of their project to the on-campus Institutional Review Board (IRB) and are cleared to begin research, which they complete on their own with the help of their faculty co-researcher. Upon completing the research itself, a formal paper which extensively discusses the research and its implications makes up a substantial portion of the project’s grade.IMG_5119

While the poster session is the conclusion of the research at the college, some students IMG_1019continue building upon their findings post-graduation, either in graduate school or independently. In particular, if students find significance in their data, they are highly encouraged to explore the possibility of publication of their research. This was the case for Emily Fairbank, ’18, who – to her surprise – found significant findings in her research about resistance to change in the workplace. Regardless of the results, the work is a great learning opportunity and can also serve as motivation to further research in the topic area.

Being in a smaller department at a smaller college is truly conducive to a genuine sense of community, and such is made evident around the time of senior theses. Professor Finn is known to give a rose to each senior in exchange for the thesis they FullSizeRendergive to him. After the poster session, a department barbecue on the Quad gathers students, faculty and the families of faculty to enjoy each other’s company and discuss the achievements of the department over the past year, particularly in the senior theses. There is something special about eating hot dogs and hamburgers cross-legged on the grass with your professors and playing with their children. These elements of the poster session and barbecue make evident that being a part of this department is a lot more than just doing a project for a grade. My guess is that seniors may not cringe as much when they hear the word thesis now. I bet they think about hard, rewarding work, encouraging faculty who care about them, and roses.

Mental Health Speakers Discuss Issues of Stigma, Inclusion and Diversity

By Madeline Pratte '19 and Lexi Caldwell '20

On Tuesday April 4th, 2017, the Psychology department of Saint Anselm College hosted the 4th Annual pic2Hechtl/Lasky Lecture Event.  The series is in honor of former faculty members Richard Hechtl and Julian "Jack" Lasky, who were leaders in Saint Anselm College's Psychology department, having devoted their careers to promoting wellness through basic and applied psychology research. This year, the department welcomed Hon. John Broderick, former Chief Justice of the New    Hampshire Supreme Court, as well as Dr. Lorena Estrada-Martinez, Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts-Boston, to discuss how the community can promote wellness for youth of color.

pic1Broderick is working to promote the “Campaign to Change Direction” to help spread awareness of mental health. The campaign is working to promote possible signs of mental illness, including personality changes, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care, and hopelessness. While talking about the campaign during the lecture, he said his understanding of mental illness comes from his own personal struggles with his own son. Broderick described how his son was brave for allowing him to use his story toHechtl event 2017_edited help promote his campaign. Broderick said that he had talked to many different age groups over the past year promoting the campaign. Using his son’s story within his talks about the campaign helped to make a connection with the people he was talking to. John Broderick believes that by spreading the simple concept of “Knowing the Five Signs” of mental illness, this will help bring awareness to the extreme issue of mental health stigma in a general sense.

pic3Dr. Lorena Estrada-Martinez is a social epidemiologist who is interested in making the “Campaign to Change Direction” more inclusive of and effective for communities of color. Dr. Estrada-Martinez commemorates the campaign for moving towards reducing the stigmas of mental illness and putting mental health at the center of health conversation, but still feels that the conversation needs to improve on inclusion across race, religion, ethnicity, and gender. Dr. Estrada-Martinez outlined three important factors that she believes will lead to conversation in all communities. First, addressing the Outcome and Audience Specificity. This addresses the need to intervene at all levels by examining the disparities of suicide behavior and mental illness. She also touched upon how the public service announcements on the Change campaign website are not as diverse as they could be and should be more representative of all cultures. The second factor is understanding the Social Determinants of Mental Health. This factor looks at the varying access to quality healthcare, good neighborhoods, and positive life experiences between the different communities. Dr. Estrada-Martinez exemplifies that pic4communities of color are not given the same opportunities to access these determinants as White communities. Communities of color often are more likely to be uninsured and have poor communication with their healthcare providers, experience different racial and ethnic socioeconomic inequality, and witness trauma during their childhood. The third factor is Program Evaluation. This involves looking at the goals and objectives of the programs, the activities used to complete those objectives, the methods to assess the effectiveness of the program, and the decision-making based on data, revision, and modification. She also suggested to engage in others’ work towards ending the mental illness stigma and including people of color in order to limit the growth of disparities in communities of color. Dr. Estrada-Martinez concluded by stating that there are many steps between raising awareness and seeing a reduction in the stigmas. These steps are going to be different in all communities because there is not one direct path to follow. There is not one campaign that will be able to address all of the problems with solutions and there is a need to have a political conversation of health equality to see a change.

Hearing from Dr. Lorena Estrada-Martinez and Hon. John Broderick was a great opportunity for the Saint Anselm College community to meet and network with leaders in the field of mental health.  We thank them for sharing their work and perspectives with us.