McSilver Receives NIMH Grant to Study Engagement by Black Adolescents in Depression Treatment

The McSilver Institute is based at the Washington Square Campus of New York University (NYU)

Contact: Sheryl Huggins Salomon,

NEW YORK (MARCH 19, 2019) — The McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University has received a three-year research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the effectiveness of a novel treatment intervention for keeping Black adolescents engaged in depression treatment.

Rates of engagement and completion of depression treatments are lower for Black adolescents than for White teens, in part due to negative perceptions about services and providers, and as well as a reluctance to admit to symptoms. The Making Connections Intervention (MCI) has been devised to address barriers to engagement, in youth, as well as their caregivers.

“Engaging Black Youth in Depression and Suicide Prevention Treatment within Urban Schools: A Preliminary Study,” is a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial that will study the effectiveness of the intervention in sixty Black adolescents who have depression symptoms and attend grades 6-12 within New York City Department of Education Public Schools. The grant period began on March 1, 2019.

“If we are to meet Black adolescents’ depression treatment needs, then we must address the challenge of keeping them engaged and understand the factors that impede their treatment success,” says Michael A. Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH, executive director of the McSilver Institute and the Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies at NYU Silver School of Social Work. “Many engagement interventions focus on getting populations to the door of the therapist’s office; but this one focuses on how engagement during the treatment course effects outcomes, both by the young person being treated, and the caregiver who must support that treatment in order for it to be successful.”

The MCI is a one-to-two session school-based intervention that involves not only the relationship between youth and therapist, but also between parent and child, and parent and therapist. It is an additive treatment to the IPT-A, an evidence-based intervention for depression that is delivered in schools and was developed by Columbia University psychologist Laura Mufson, PhD. Additionally, it includes the use of unique digital tools and content, developed by the social enterprise Ker-Twang, to inform and engage young participants.

The research team for the study will include Drs. Lindsey and Mufson, James Jaccard, PhD of the NYU Silver School of Social Work and Nicholas Ialongo, PhD of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

About the McSilver Institute

The McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University is committed to creating new knowledge about the root causes of poverty, developing evidence-based interventions to address its consequences, and rapidly translating research findings into action through policy and best practices. Each year it holds the McSilver Awards, recognizing extraordinary leaders transforming systems to tackle structural poverty and oppression. Learn more at and sign up for updates.