Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Ph.D., Announced as Inaugural U-M Depression Center Eisenberg Scholar

Proposed research will develop and pilot tailored eHealth intervention to promote depression treatment among college populations

ANN ARBOR – Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Ph.D., was just announced as the inaugural Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Scholar. The award, worth $100,000, was given for her proposed research on promoting the treatment of depressions, bipolar illnesses and related disorders in college students.

Sarah Lipson

Sarah Lipson

Lipson is a mental health services researcher with a focus on adolescent and young adult populations, particularly college students. Her research aims to identify students with untreated symptoms of depression (and other common mental health conditions) as early as possible and to encourage these students to seek the help services they need. Her planned outcome is to have more students who need help taking advantage of the mental health services available to them.

Her proposed study, titled, “Tailored eHealth Intervention to Promote Depression Treatment in College Populations,” will begin with an online screen to identify the students with untreated symptoms of depression from the random sample of U-M undergraduates. Following the baseline screen, the students will be randomly assigned to three different groups: 1) tailored messages, 2) untailored messages, and 3) no messages. The tailored messages will be tailored according to the reasons students report not seeking help (i.e., their individual treatment barriers).

This intervention has potential to initiate steps shown to help attain and maintain wellness, decrease future costs, and prevent negative outcomes (such as school dropout, substance misuse and suicide).

“Today, one in five college students report symptoms that characterize depressions or bipolar illnesses,” said John Greden, M.D., executive director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center. “Sarah’s intention to streamline behavioral health treatment for college students through tailored eHealth interventions is the perfect inaugural Eisenberg Emerging Scholar project. We are optimistic that these approaches may improve outcomes for students. If so, they have potential for widespread dissemination and moving the bar for college students everywhere, benefitting millions at the time period in life when risks for these illnesses are highest.”

The Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg award will be given annually to an early career faculty member or fellow in the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center who has begun to compile an outstanding academic track record and conveys a passionate interest in a future research career that advances knowledge in the understanding of mechanisms and treatments in depressions, bipolar illnesses, or related disorders.

Dr. Lipson’s two-year pilot study will begin in fall 2017. This award was made possible through a generous gift of $10.75 million to the U-M Depression Center from Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg. Learn more.

Learn more about Sarah here.