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Phil Jenkins Award for Innovation in Depression Treatment

In 2011, the University of Michigan received a gift from local business entrepreneur and community leader Phil F. Jenkins to stimulate creative ideas about ways to improve treatment or self-management of depression. The award is intended to empower students and faculty to bring creative ideas to life, such as new diagnostic tests, treatment strategies, clinical monitoring approaches, or emerging products that would improve overall wellness.

2014 Amanda Leggett
Prevention of Depression in Older Adults with Sleep Disturbance: Activating the Circadian Rhythm with Light
2014 Daphne C. Watkins
Depression in Black College Men: Tailoring an Intervention on Race, Masculinities, and Mood
2012 Danielle M. Novick
Mood Self-Monitoring and Text-Messaging: A Unique Approach to Understanding and Improving Mental Health Treatment Engagement and Adherence

 

Amanda Legget, Ph.D.
Prevention of Depression in Older Adults with Sleep Disturbance:

Activating the Circadian Rhythm with Light (2014)

Symptoms of depression in late life are costly, and are associated with considerable distress, disability, health service use, and risk for suicide.  However, prevention strategies for depression lag behind those for other medical disorders, particularly among older adults.  With support from the Phil Jenkins Award, Dr. Leggett will be aiming to target sleep disturbance as a preventive intervention for depression.  Sleep problems are commonly experienced by older adults and put individuals at increased risk for the development of depression.  In a first step of her project, Dr. Leggett will conduct a focus group that determines the feasibility of bright light glasses called “re-timers” as a sleep disturbance preventive intervention and identifies potential barriers and challenges to compliance among older adults.  Re-timer glasses are an innovative new technology that uses bright light therapy delivered through eye glasses to regulate the circadian rhythm.  Next daily use of the glasses will be piloted among older adults with sleep disturbance and mild symptoms of depression.  If the “re-timer” glasses can improve sleep and prevent depressive symptomatology, they could be incorporated into older adult’s daily routine and help them self-manage their sleep and mood- ultimately preventing severe distress before it starts and reducing costly health service use.        

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Daphne C. Watkins, Ph.D.
Depression in Black College Men: Tailoring an Intervention on Race, Masculinities,
and Mood (2014)


The YBMen program is a five-week, Facebook-based intervention for college-aged black men that addresses the link between hegemonic masculinity and poor mental health. The goal of this project is to further refine, focus, and implement the YBMen program with black college men in southeastern Michigan. Specific aims include (1) collecting survey data from black college men about hegemonic masculine ideologies and mental health; (2) tailoring the current YBMen program so that it incorporates the findings from these survey data; and (3) implementing the revised YBMen program with black college men in southeastern Michigan.

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Danielle M. Novick, Ph.D.
Mood Self-Monitoring and Text-Messaging: A Unique Approach to Understanding and Improving Mental Health Treatment Engagement and Adherence  (2012)

Dr. Novick’s project will identify ways that current technology might allow individuals to better monitor their moods, increase their treatment engagement and adherence, and also help guide mental health care providers in making more informed and personalized treatment decisions for their patients. 

The Jenkins-funded project will add a powerful new dimension to Dr. Novick’s existing research. She currently uses actigraphs to measure a person’s daily physical activity and light exposure, information that can then be used to estimate some of the body’s biological rhythms. Because many effective treatments for depression and bipolar disorder are believed to work in part by shifting, re-setting, or stabilizing the body’s biological rhythms, understanding how these rhythmic changes are connected to mood and functioning is critical to ensure treatments are successful.

For several months, actigraph-wearing research participants (recruited from the Prechter Bipolar Longitudinal study) will be prompted daily with a text message reminder to report their current mood, using their cell phone.  Integrating the text message information with actigraph data will provide “real-time” information about the relationship between an individual’s biological rhythms, daily routines and mood.

“I am very grateful to Mr. Jenkins for this award. This will allow us to use technology to develop novel ways to help individuals with depression and bipolar disorder, and hopefully encourage them to take a more active role in the management of their illnesses,” Dr. Novick says. 

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