McSilver is fortunate to have Catherine Vu, MSW, MPA, PhD as an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow. Her research is driven by her interest in how contextual and organizational factors influence service utilization by low-income racial and ethnic communities. Describing the community factors that are associated with the organization’s capacity to serve vulnerable populations, Dr. Vu shared, “I think understanding issues that shape service utilization is the important first step in trying to help clients because we have to get them to come to the organization before we can provide services.”
Dr. Vu’s hypothesis is that community based organizations that are closely linked to their communities are better able at engaging clients in services. These organizations tend to be more familiar with the needs and barriers of the populations they serve. Recent policy changes and budget deficits have forced funding cuts to these types of organizations, which may result in detrimental effects to the services provided to vulnerable minority populations who already face significant obstacles to receiving services. She is working on a project in partnership with McSilver’s Children’s Technical Assistance Center (CTAC). One of the goals of this study is to understand how publicly funded, licensed mental health clinics respond to policy and socio-demographic changes.
Dr. Vu is also working with Silver School of Social Work Assistant Professor Duy Nguyen on a research project at Korean Community Services. The study seeks to examine the organizational, contextual, and individual factors that affect Asian Americans’ mental health and use of health and mental health services. This study is rooted in Dr. Vu’s passion to better understand mental health issues and service utilization among Asian populations.