PhD Candidate Shelly Ben-David Selected as a Fahs-Beck Scholar

Shelly Ben-David
Shelly Ben-David

NYU Silver School of Social Work PhD Candidate Shelly Ben-David has been selected as a 2016 Fahs-Beck Scholar and awarded a doctoral dissertation grant from the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation at The New York Community Trust.

The goal of the competitive Fahs-Beck Doctoral Dissertation Grant Program is to support dissertation research that has “the potential to add significantly to knowledge about problems in the functioning or well being of children, adults, families, communities, or about interventions that help prevent such problems.”

Shelly’s dissertation proposal is entitled “Mental Health Service Utilization in Young Adults at Risk for Developing Psychosis: A Qualitative Study.” She explained, “My research aims to increase understanding of the facilitators or barriers to mental health service utilization among young adults at clinical high risk for developing psychosis. These young adults face tremendous challenges reaching independence and it is a significant public health concern if they do not receive the help they need. Only a marginal group of individuals that are at clinical high risk for developing psychosis seek services. We need to explore why these young people are not seeking services in order to develop effective interventions to increase engagement because delays in the treatment of psychosis leads to worse outcomes.“

Shelly, who expects to receive her doctorate in spring 2017, credited her dissertation committee chair and mentor, Dr. Michelle Munson, as well as her committee members, Dr. James Jaccard and Dr. Mary McKay, for fostering her research.

Dr. Munson said, “Shelly Ben-David is an outstanding young researcher with strong qualitative and quantitative skills, and a deep commitment to young people with serious mental health challenges. This dissertation grant from the Fahs-Beck Fund is both a validation of her promise and an investment in her future in the field.”

Since she began the PhD program at Silver School four years ago, Shelly has been an integral member of Dr. Munson’s Youth and Young Adult Mental Health Group, which focuses on building knowledge and intervention programs to improve the lives of marginalized youth and young adults. She is currently the project manager for Dr. Munson’s NIH-funded intervention study, entitled “Cornerstone: Boundary Spanning Case Management and Peer Support for Youth.” Shelly was also the lead author on the Group’s paper entitled, “Social context in mental health service use among young adults” that builds understanding on the communication between young adults living with serious mental health challenges and the significant people in their lives. “Overall,” she said, “my aim is to build knowledge to address the unmet needs of marginalized populations of adolescents and young adults with mental health challenges, in particular those in the early stages of psychosis.”