Polly Gipson

Gipson (3)




Clinical Assistant Professor
University of Michigan Health System

Professional Bio

Polly Gipson, PhD, is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Child/Adolescent Section, at the University of Michigan Health System. Dr. Gipson is a licensed clinical psychologist. She serves as the Director of Child and Adolescent Psychology Training, Director of the Frankel Psychotherapy Program and Director of the Trauma and Grief Clinic. She is a member of the Youth Depression and Suicide Prevention Research Program. Dr. Gipson’s expertise is in evidence-based clinical practices, suicide risk assessment and intervention and community-based participatory research. Presently, she is a co-investigator and project coordinator of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded randomized controlled community-based effectiveness trial. This community-based project is designed to prevent the initial occurrence of suicidal behavior in adolescents at elevated risk due to a recent history of peer victimization (as a bully victim, bully perpetrator or both) and/or social disconnectedness. A mentorship strategy is employed with the primary aim to increase youths’ sense of community connectedness and enhance their overall adaptive functioning. Dr. Gipson’s line of research will continue to focus on community-based prevention and intervention strategies for underserved adolescents of color at elevated risk for suicidal and other adverse psychological outcomes.

Project Description

Background: Research suggests that youth-adult mentorship promotes child and family well-being. Mentoring relationship qualities (MRQ), like connectedness and shared interests, are factors to the dyad success. Yet, few studies have examined MRQ in formal mentorships with youth at risk for mental health problems. Specific Aims: Examine the relations between MRQ and youth mental health/adaptive outcomes. Research Questions: Which MRQ are most salient to positive youth outcomes, and which match elements influence perceived relationship quality? Conceptual Model: MRQ, as articulated by Nakkula and Harris (2014), include internal match quality and match structure. Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis of an at risk youth sample recruited from an urban emergency department and randomized to a community-based mentorship for a CDC funded project. General linear and mixed model analyses will be performed to longitudinally assess MRQ and youth adaptive/emotional outcomes.

My New Connections Experience

New Connections is an integral career development award that will benefit my academic path tremendously. It would afford me numerous opportunities to grow as a clinical researcher. For example, career mentoring, networking and advanced statistical training are a few of the benefits this award offers. New Connections serves as a community for those working with populations who are marginalized, underrepresented or invisible, many of the same feelings New Connections research investigators may struggle with. Further, it provides me with protected time to further refine my research knowledge, competence and overall productivity.
It means a great deal to me professionally and personally. Professionally, it adds value to my passion and commitment to collaborate with underserved communities around meaningful research that translates into real world implications and impact. It will also allow me to achieve important milestones necessary for promotion within my institution. Personally, I strive to live by the passage, to whom much is given, much is expected. Being a part of New Connections affords me a venue to serve those whom I owe a tremendous debt. As a person of color, I recognize that my many blessings could only have be realized from the sacrifices of countless individuals who came before me, who do not live to witness the full blossom of their planted seeds. I stand on broad beautiful shoulders, and determined to show my gratitude by doing my part to reach, teach and serve the least among us.

Research Interests

Community-based prevention and intervention mental health strategies for underserved youth of color; suicide risk assessment and intervention; training underserved youth serving agencies in evidence-based practice of trauma- and grief-informed assessment; program evaluation of an integrated behavioral healthcare model for underserved children, adolescents and their caregivers in a primary care setting.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2015
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Child and Family Well-being
  • Project Name: Community Mentors as Facilitators of Youth Mental Health and Connectedness.

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