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UT Arlington professor receives grant to examine Korean elders' depression

News Release — 3 June 2009


Media contact: Merrell Foote, Herb Booth, (512) 471-9142, (817) 272-7075,

ARLINGTON - Dr. Suk-Young Kang, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work, is one of 10 tenure-track faculty members in Texas to receive research grants totaling $150,000 from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

The one-year grants are capped at $15,000 each. The foundation received 35 proposals from faculty at 16 colleges and universities in Texas.

"Finding funds for academic research can be a challenge. These grants will enable the recipients to build their expertise and credentials," said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

Kang will study the recent economic downturn's effect on depression among Korean immigrant elders in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"The economic crisis has yanked the financial security blanket away from many families and individuals, causing them stress and anxiety. How people respond to stress and whether they seek treatment for related issues like depression can depend on their cultural beliefs and attitudes about mental health," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.

Financial stress is a risk factor for depression, which in turn is linked to elder suicide, Kang said in his proposal. Korean immigrants aged 65 and older in the U.S. have a poverty rate of 19 percent and are more likely to be affected by financial crisis. However, limited resources and cultural stigma may prevent them from seeking treatment.

"The lack of reliable data creates a policy and programming vacuum regarding mental health issues faced by Korean immigrant elders," Kang said. "I believe this study's findings will begin to fill that void and will serve as the basis for a future study on the effectiveness of stress management in reducing depression."

Kang specializes in mental and physical health among Asian immigrants in the United States.

The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas.


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