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Simmons Professor Receives National Social Work Award

Dr. Helen Reinherz Honored for 25-Year Study of Predictors of Mental Health

BOSTON (January 14, 2005) — Dr. Helen Reinherz, MSW, ScD, a professor at the Simmons College School of Social Work and head of the nation's longest-running study of predictors of mental health from early childhood onward, today was awarded the 2005 Distinguished Achievement Award by the national Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR).

Reinherz was presented the award at the SSWR annual conference in Miami, FL. The honor is bestowed yearly to one social work professional whose "outstanding career accomplishments and commitment to the advancement of state-of-the-art research have set them apart from other leaders in the field."

The Society for Social Work and Research, dedicated to the advancement of social work, has more than 1,300 members across the country and abroad.

Reinherz for 26 years has served as principal investigator of the Simmons Longitudinal Study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study looks for behavioral, health and family factors that are likely to lead to good or poor mental health at various stages of one's development. It is designed to help mental health professionals, policy makers, parents, educators and social workers improve early identification and treatment of mental health issues. (For more information describing the work of the study and numerous publications about its findings, visit www.simmons.edu/ssw/sls).

The SSWR citation said Reinherz's "findings on mental health across the life course constitute a major contribution to our understanding," and SSWR President Deborah Padgett called Reinherz's work a "pioneering achievement in social work research."

The study, based at the Simmons School of Social Work, began in 1977 when researchers began following all five-year-olds in one community as they entered kindergarten, through various stages of their development until today, when they are adults starting their own lives and families. Respondents and their family members were interviewed at each stage to follow their adaptation and development. The confidential and cumulative data is analyzed at each stage to identify key risk or protective factors in mental health development.

Study findings have been reported over the years in numerous professional publications on such topics as predictors of major depression in early adulthood, predictors of eating disorders in young adult women, what makes some adolescents with difficult backgrounds especially resilient to mental health problems, and childhood risk factors for drug disorders later in life

The Simmons College School of Social Work (www.simmons.edu/ssw) is located in Boston, MA. Founded in 1904, it has a nationally acclaimed clinical social work program and is one of the oldest schools of social work in the nation.

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