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Our Primary Focus

Principal shakes hand of student in University Park Campus School

The Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise is focused on addressing the behavioral health of adolescents and young adults.

Research indicates that mental health challenges are more prevalent among 16- to 24-year-olds than any other demographic. One in seven young men in this age group experiences depression or anxiety each year. Despite this, adolescents and young adults, particularly young males, are the least likely to seek help or access professional care for mental health problems. For this reason, the Institute pays particular attention to the social, emotional, and behavioral health of boys and young men with the goal of improving mental health outcomes.

Reducing Stigmas

The Institute seeks to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and to promote a paradigm of preventative social, emotional, and behavioral learning through the development of capacities that benefit adolescents and young adults in schools or other settings. Offering resiliency skills to all is the most powerful way to address the roots of behavioral health issues preventatively, and can diminish stigma and significantly increase care-seeking and disclosure of health concerns. In this regard, it is critical that the Institute’s work addresses all adolescents and young adults, while focusing on boys and young men.

Promoting Well-Being

The Institute’s approach emphasizes promoting well-being prior to the development of full-threshold mental health disorders. Examples of relevant skills for youths and young adults include the abilities to recognize, cope with, and communicate about emotional distress; seek appropriate help when needed; and actively participate in school and other environments that promote social justice and oppose racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.

Building a robust technology platform is critical for scaling the delivery of prevention tools and learning modules, increasing access to provider networks, and communicating behavioral health approaches to adolescents, young adults, their families, teachers, and other supporters.

Although the Institute aims to improve the behavioral health of adolescents and young adults, success in this effort must begin early. A school-based initiative is central to preventative efforts to increase resiliency skills, reduce mental health issues, diminish stigma, improve early-stage identification of illness, increase the likelihood of seeking help, and develop coping skills among adolescents and young adults.

Clark’s School and Neighborhood Partnerships

Clark has a long history of school and neighborhood partnerships. Anchored in the work of Clark’s Adam Institute for Urban Teaching and Hiatt Center for Urban Education, the University’s partnership with the Worcester Public Schools combines deep involvement in the development of teaching and school practice with collaborative approaches to research.

The University Park Campus School in Clark’s Main South neighborhood (pictured above) was co-developed by Clark and Worcester to strengthen the path to post-secondary education for first-generation college-going students and has a 100 percent graduation rate. Clark’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program, recognized with “distinction” by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is embedded in UPCS and five other partner schools. The partnerships offer a unique collaborative context for exploring and enacting models of social behavioral development.