The Constance and Martin Silver Center on Data Science and Social Equity (C+M Silver Center) has awarded a $70,000 Academic Year 2022-23 faculty research grant to a team led by Professor Michelle R. Munson for their project using “big data” to identify “hotspots of need” and key drivers of service utilization among young adults in New York with mental health needs. The C+M Silver Center was established in June 2021 to stimulate interest in and support early development of innovations in the field of data science broadly, with a specific focus on topics with potential to promote social equity.
Professor Marya Gwadz, NYU Silver’s Associate Dean for Research and the Inaugural Director of the Center, said “We are excited to fund this important project as part of our annual competition among NYU Silver full-time faculty who seek to harness data science to achieve timely and large-scale impact on today’s most pressing social problems.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare gaps in our healthcare system, and young adult behavioral health is among our most challenging crises,” said Dr. Munson, whose collaborators on the project are Dr. Sadiq Patel from Harvard University, Dr. Molly Finnerty from NYU Grossman School of Medicine/New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), Dr. Deborah Layman from NYSOMH/Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, and Qingxian Chen from NYSOMH. “When there is unequal availability and utilization of mental health services in communities, there will be great divides in life outcomes,” Dr. Munson added. “The C+M Silver Center’s support for this project will catapult our cross-institutional team as we harness ‘big data’ to begin to address the unmet mental health need among young adults.”
Dr. Munson explained that the team’s project will leverage the NYSOMH Psychiatric Services and Clinical Knowledge Enhancement System (PSYCKES) platform, a large integrated mental health and Medicaid claims database, to identify ‘hotspot’ communities of need, where there are high rates of young adults with serious mental illness and low levels of utilization of professional services. “Our project will use both statistical and machine learning methods to identify ‘drivers’ of mental health care. Findings will inform future research to reduce social inequities among some of New York’s most disadvantaged citizens. To that end, our team will use project findings as the groundwork for grant applications in partnership with the emergent communities, and to advance consumer-facing technologies such as ‘MyCHOIS’, a system that provides direct access and messaging for patients to their health information and real-time resources in moments of need.” In addition, Dr. Munson said, results from the project will be used to inform state leadership in their policy and program efforts to address gaps in services.
Dr. Gwadz noted that Dr. Munson’s project was selected for funding after a review process modeled on that used by the National Institutes of Health. The proposals were reviewed by a five-member research advisory committee that Dr. Gwadz chaired in her capacity as NYU Silver’s Associate Dean for Research. Each application was subjected to independent peer review by three members of the committee and was read, discussed, and scored. Final decisions were made by the committee based on the scores.