Supporting young psychiatrists helping communities in need
By helping develop a new generation of clinician-scholars devoted to clinical care and research in child and adolescent psychiatry, the Edwin and Mary Meader Memorial Fund for Depression and Related Disorders in Children and Adolescents is a prime example of a legacy gift that carries tremendous impact. The fund allows psychiatrists in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship program at U-M to provide their expertise to medically underserved communities that would otherwise not receive these vital mental health services. In addition, Child and Adolescent Fellows who are on a “research track” can receive support through this fund for pilot research that will help them launch their scientific careers.
This generous gift was provided by Elizabeth Upjohn Mason and Lowell B. Mason, Jr. of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in memory of their dear friends Edwin E. and Mary Upjohn Meader, who, during their lifetimes, were among the most ardent supporters of the mission and work of the U-M Depression Center. The Meaders, also from Kalamazoo, made the pivotal gift for construction of the facility that houses the Depression Center, named the Rachel Upjohn Building for Mrs. Meader, born Rachel Mary Upjohn.
By enriching the fellowship experience at U-M, this new gift also addresses a daunting challenge facing the field of child and adolescent psychiatry— the shortage of trained child psychiatrists. While the estimated need for child psychiatrists is 17 for every 100,000 children, the current U.S. average is only 7.5 per 100,000, and in Michigan it is only 2 per 100,000. Young people in need of evaluation and treatment for depression, bipolar, and related disorders confront this shortage of professional services at the very point in their lives when early detection and treatment are critically important to prevent the progression of these illnesses.
Along with the need for more psychiatrists who can treat our youth, more researchers are needed to advance the understanding of psychiatric conditions in children and adolescents, and to find more effective strategies to help them achieve maximum wellness throughout their lifetimes.
Both of these shortage issues underscore the need to attract, retain, and support outstanding residents in child psychiatric medicine and offer them comprehensive and rigorous training experiences to prepare them for clinical and/or research careers.
The Meader Memorial Fund has had a tremendous impact on the professional development of young psychiatry trainees and, just as significantly, on the communities they serve. The fellows often work alongside pediatricians in their clinical rotations, a unique arrangement that fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration and learning. Prachi “PJ” Agarwala, M.D., who worked with children and teens each week as a second-year fellow on a rotation at the Corner Health Clinic in Ypsilanti, Michigan, found that her experience helped refocus her ideas about depression and related illnesses as lifetime disorders. “Working with adults, I always wondered what happened when they were 5 or 10 years old to lead them down this path. Now, working with kids and teenagers, I’m attempting to treat the problem when it starts,” she says.
This gift will continue to support training and research opportunities for bright young psychiatry fellows, as well as state-of-the-art clinical care for underserved populations in Michigan.