Jarl Ahlkvist receives grant from the National Institute of Mental Health
Childhood adversity leads to premature diseases of aging, most forms of psychopathology, and early mortality. The biological toxicity of chronic stress is a critical conduit of this phenomenon. This new NIMH-funded R33 project will evaluate the psychological and biological outcomes of a new coping-identity-empowerment focused intervention program designed specifically to mitigate the health effects of exposure to chronic stress stemming from poverty, violence exposure, and discrimination. This project uses a randomized clinical trial with 150 economically disadvantaged preadolescents to: (1) test the malleability of the physiologic stress response systems (e.g., HPA) in response to the intervention; and (2) test the extent to which skill acquisition and changes in HPA functioning lead to improved trajectories of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress symptoms over time in youths randomized to the 16-session intervention.