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Projects Aim to Improve Community Well-Being in Milwaukee Through Health Evaluations

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Christopher Boswell
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Earlier this year, Lake Effect spoke with researchers Dmitri Topitzes and Joshua Mersky about their research on the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACEs.

These encompass a variety of things that can happen in childhood - including different forms of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunctions. Research has found that ACEs can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to succeed later in life. 

LISTEN: Effects of Childhood Trauma Reverberate Through Generations of Milwaukeeans

Dr. Dmitri Topitzes and Dr. Joshua Mersky are both associate professors at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at UW-Milwaukee. They’re also the co-founders of the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being, and their current work is focused on improving outcomes of Wisconsin's Transitional Jobs program.

"What we've found in a lot of the research for transitional jobs programs is that they have short-term positive effects on income, even on family health and well-being, but their effects tend to fade over time."

"What we've found in a lot of the research for transitional jobs programs is that they have short-term positive effects on income, even on family health and well-being, but their effects tend to fade over time," says Topitzes. 

He continues, "The problem tends to be oftentimes... personal in nature... Problems such as behavioral health issues like substance-abuse, even mental health issues like depression and anxiety." 

As a way of solving these issues, they're utilizing a protocol known as T-SBIRT, or Trauma Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment.  

"We are providing additional health-related services - primarily mental health services - for men and women who present to work development programming... The reasons tend to transcend structural problems, like for instance: jobs are hard to come by," says Topitzes.

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.