Sunny H. Shin

Sunny H. Shi

Sunny H.



Assistant Professor 
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work 

Professional Bio

Sunny H. Shin, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work. His primary research areas are childhood maltreatment, alcohol and other drug abuse and racial/ethnic disparity in child mental health service. In recent years, Shin has studied the effects of childhood maltreatment on adolescent binge drinking and patterns of adolescent substance use. He has practical experience in child welfare and school social work. Shin received his M.S.S.W. degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he taught research methods and practice evaluation courses.

Project Description

The long-range goal of the research project is to identify potential solutions for reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to mental health services by children. Such solutions could be cross-culturally responsive mental health intervention strategies for maltreated children and their families. A key method to achieving this is to identify modifiable family and cultural factors — e.g., parental beliefs about causes of childhood mental health problems — that could increase the use of such interventions. To lay the groundwork for such interventions, the research project examines two questions: 1) Why are racial and ethnic minority children compared with NHW children less likely to use mental health services?; and 2) How do cultural and family factors influence racial and ethnic disparities in children’s mental health services use? The research project is a quantitative study involving a secondary data analysis of the NIMH funded Patterns of Youth Mental Health Care in Public Service Systems Study (POC) dataset. A variety of analytic strategies including multiple regression logistic regression and structural equation modeling is used in examining racial/ethnic patterns of the caregiving experiences of children involved with publicly-funded service systems, and exploring the role of three cognitive domains of the caregiving experiences in predicting mental health services use: appraisal of caregiving as stressful; appraisal of a child’s emotion or behavior as problematic; and etiological explanations for child problems.

My New Connections Experience

I applied for the New Connections award to make productive connections with private foundations and colleagues whose career goals are to reduce and eventually eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in access to health and human services. New Connections has broadened my professional network to include a number of colleagues from a variety of disciplines.

Research Interests

Childhood maltreatment, Alcohol and other drug abuse, Racial/ethnic disparity in child mental health service.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2007
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Vulnerable Populations
  • Project Name: Explaining Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Mental Health Services by Children.

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