Michelle R. Munson, Ph.D. conducts research on the behavioral health needs and well-being of youth and young adults, particularly individuals and families who have interacted with publicly-funded social service systems such as child welfare, juvenile justice, public welfare, and public education. Her research interests emerged while she was in clinical practice in community and hospital settings, where mental health needs were high and gaps in mental health services were extensive.
Dr. Munson arrived at New York University in the fall of 2010. Prior to her arrival, she was on the faculty at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Her research mainly addresses three related research questions: (a) Do supportive relationships and cognitive processes influence mental health service use and overall mental health and well-being?; (b) If so, how do these factors make an impact?; and (c) How and where can we reconnect young adults to health services on the other side of the developmental transition to adulthood? The overall aim of her program of her research is to contribute to a decrease in the amount of untreated mental illness in society and improve the mental health and well-being of vulnerable youth and young adults from low-resourced communities.
Dr. Munson uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore these questions and is working on projects in New York, Ohio, and Michigan to build knowledge and directly address mental health practice and policy relevant to vulnerable youth and young adults. For more information on one of these research projects, please refer to a recently published study by Dr. Munson and colleagues in Children and Youth Services Review.
Dr. Munson is excited to be collaborating with the McSilver Institute of Poverty Policy and Research. In particular, she is excited to have been invited to work with the Knowledge Empowers You (KEY) team to adapt this youth-oriented wellness self-management program specifically for the needs of teens residing in residential treatment facilities who are struggling with behavioral challenges. The current project is funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health. The aim of the project is to examine the efficacy and implementation of KEY and to promote a larger research agenda to help teens transition to adulthood. This project is particularly salient within the current policy environment, where mental health funding for residential programs is decreasing rapidly. The KEY model strives to improve teens’ capacities to manage their health, coupled with improving their self-efficacy and autonomy in making important decisions regarding their young adult lives.
Dr. Munson is deeply committed to carrying out research that will result in improved behavioral health practice and policy.