Projects Aim to Improve Community Well-Being in Milwaukee Through Health Evaluations

Oct 24, 2017

Earlier this year, Lake Effect spoke with researchers Dmitri Topitzes and Joshua Mersky about their research on the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACEs.

These encompass a variety of things that can happen in childhood - including different forms of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunctions. Research has found that ACEs can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to succeed later in life. 

LISTEN: Effects of Childhood Trauma Reverberate Through Generations of Milwaukeeans

Dr. Dmitri Topitzes and Dr. Joshua Mersky are both associate professors at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at UW-Milwaukee. They’re also the co-founders of the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being, and their current work is focused on improving outcomes of Wisconsin's Transitional Jobs program.

"What we've found in a lot of the research for transitional jobs programs is that they have short-term positive effects on income, even on family health and well-being, but their effects tend to fade over time."

"What we've found in a lot of the research for transitional jobs programs is that they have short-term positive effects on income, even on family health and well-being, but their effects tend to fade over time," says Topitzes. 

He continues, "The problem tends to be oftentimes... personal in nature... Problems such as behavioral health issues like substance-abuse, even mental health issues like depression and anxiety." 

As a way of solving these issues, they're utilizing a protocol known as T-SBIRT, or Trauma Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment.  

"We are providing additional health-related services - primarily mental health services - for men and women who present to work development programming... The reasons tend to transcend structural problems, like for instance: jobs are hard to come by," says Topitzes.