More than 90 million adults in the United States have low health literacy, as do one in five citizens of the United Kingdom and sixty percent of Canadian citizens, according to the World Health Organization. This means that they don’t know where or how to get medical information that they can understand, how to communicate effectively with their health care providers, or how their healthcare system works. This costs them a lot of money every year, and affects their health; they may go to the hospital more often, and have poorer health overall. Experts have consistently shown that the greater one’s health literacy, the easier it is to make cost-effective health care decisions. The concept applies to more than just decisions made about one’s physical health; it can also be said to apply to the health of one’s relationships as well: relationship literacy.
Such literacy is at the core of the College of Family, Home, and Social Science’s mission. Part of the development of that literacy involves educating the psychologists and family therapists of tomorrow. Those future therapists learn how to help marriages that have lost their strength become strong again. Countless practicing providers today health marriages and families worldwide, yet it remains murky territory for many. What happens in therapy? Will it help? Perhaps most pressing, how much will it cost? D. Russell Crane, a professor in the college’s School of Family Life, recognizes the urgency of these questions and strives to alleviate the concern they often cause.
He recently published a book chapter on the topic with Jacob D. Christenson of Mount Mercy University. The chapter explored the means by which researchers could increase the cost-effectiveness of different therapy methods and practices. This process is even more difficult than it sounds, he says, because researchers are often resistant to “monetizing” their interventions, can be unfamiliar with cost evaluation methods, or maybe feel uncomfortable with the complexity of some of the calculations. But Dr. Crane argues that, while these concerns are sometimes understandable, it’s in the best interest of all involved to make strides in analyzing cost-effectiveness, from the perspective of the individual affected, their therapist, their insurance providers, and the employers with whom they work to provide that insurance. An increased effort in this regard, he says, could allow therapists to provide more effective treatments, patients to afford them more easily, and insurance companies to expand coverage.
Dr. Crane’s publication comes at an opportune time. A recent survey conducted by the school found that one in four spouses had thought about divorce in the past six months. There is a strong need for marriage therapy, and for increased literacy regarding its benefits and costs. The college provides a number of research and practical resources to help married couples develop that literacy. They include:
In his poem, If, Rudyard Kipling writes: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch…” These words perfectly describe Pamela Atkinson. Ms. Atkinson is known for her charitable work with the low income families and homeless in Utah. On Thursday, November 10, she will be coming to BYU to talk to us about how we too can help the underprivileged.
The event will be held in the WILK in room 3224 at 11am. Rachel Osterloh of the Office of Civic Engagement says: “Pamela Atkinson’s lecture is intended to encourage involvement with organizations that assist homeless individuals and families, refugees and low-income people in our communities. We hope that BYU students and faculty that attend will be able to gain a better understanding of how they can volunteer in a variety of settings and make a difference in their respective communities.”
Who is Pamela Atkinson?
This is Ms. Atkinson’s specialty. When she was younger, she volunteered at a Salvation Army dining room. She remembers fondly the major telling her to greet and shake each person’s hand; this provided them with physical contact, which was something homeless people often lack. From this experience, she was hooked: “I’m addicted to volunteering.”
This addiction has led Ms. Atkinson to work with various governments to help the homeless. It is this involvement that prompted the Government to name their homeless fund after her: Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund. Forbes contributor Devin Thorpe cites these lessons as the kinds she teaches:
Remember that ego has no role in service
Don’t ‘be afraid to speak out’
Never let issues interfere with relationships
Small things make a difference
everyone can do something
There is power to a touch or a smile
‘I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.’
If she can do it, so can I
Avoid Emotional Bankruptcy
It’s so easy to think that college students can’t do anything to help others, that we simply don’t have enough to give. But, even if all that can be given is like a widow’s mite, it’s still a mite.
The biggest surprise of Melissa Goates Jones’ life happened when she became a mother. “I found myself absolutely blown away by how much I loved being a mother,” she says on Aspiring Mormon Women. “I expected that I would have children because that’s what I ‘should do.’ I had no idea that being a mother would be something for which I felt a deep…longing.” As a career woman and a PhD, she says that this realization was “disorienting.” “Suddenly I was faced with feeling like my interest and passion was split between two important and exciting opportunities,” she says. Her traversal of that division has become, over the years, something she’s embraced. She teaches about women’s issues in their careers. She is also a new professor in our psychology department and a psychologist in private practice, where she helps many others seeking to find balance in their lives.
To a certain extent, she says that finding balance may come for some by embracing the possibility that the perfect balance does not exist. “The stress I feel at arranging carpools, throwing together dinner for my family, and struggling to prepare for that early-morning lecture after the kids are in bed has become a testament to the privilege I enjoy of being able to arrange my life around the things I care for the most.”
In her role as a faculty member, she researches issues in women’s health, especially surrounding abuse and trauma. She looks at how the psychotherapy process and outcome affects women’s career development. She leads a group for women survivors of sexual abuse. Of that role, she says:
“Survivors will have a large variety of emotions, and those emotions will change and develop in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years following the assault. Recent research by Rebecca Campbell at Michigan State University suggests that survivors of sexual assault may respond in a variety of ways that do not always make sense to the observer because of how trauma affects memory, cognition, and emotion. These effects can last for 96 hours after the assault AND be evident whenever memory of the assault is triggered.”
She also teaches several psychology classes, and next semester she will teach an integrative psychology practicum as well as clinical research in psychology. She received her PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Maryland after completing her undergraduate degree in from BYU. Professor Jones is from Canada, has been married to Marshall Jones for thirteen years, and has four children.
For the faith community in the United States, religious freedom has become a growing concern. In an increasingly secular world, many fear that social trends and new policies will either infringe on their right to worship or force them to accommodate things that contradict their beliefs. These worries are not solely confined to America, though; they are worldwide. “About 74% of the world’s population are living in countries with serious restrictions on religious freedom, according to David Saperstein, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom. He will speak on this issue, and on the United States’ efforts to promote international religious freedom, at a lecture hosted by BYU’s Wheatley Institution, on November 17th.
The lecture will be delivered on November 17th from 7:30-9:00 PM in the HBLL auditorium. at BYU. Ambassador Saperstein will speak on the importance of promoting religious freedom around the world, as well as combating religious persecution and discrimination in all of its forms–including genocide and other atrocities committed by groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Religious freedom has recently been a central focus of Brigham Young University and the church which owns it, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many devotionals, conference talks, and online articles have covered the issue in-depth and argued for an increase in the freedom of religious people to practice and live their beliefs.
These conversations have taken place outside of Mormonism as well. Many Christians have refused to serve homosexuals at their places of work, citing their religious beliefs as justification. This has resulted in several high-profile lawsuits, perhaps most notably the 2015 arrest of government employee Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling and a federal court order addressed to her.
In January 2015, President Barack Obama appointed David Saperstein to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Before that, Ambassador Saperstein served on the boards of numerous national organizations and was the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is a prolific writer and speaker, and holds degrees from Cornell, Hebrew Union College, and American University.
Some students panic as finals week approaches. They worry that they have too much to do, between tests, papers, and the like. Many want or need to make their work stand out, to give it an edge in the grading process. Sometimes, a visual may be what’s needed. And sometimes, BYU’s own Think Spatial, a map making and data analysis club, can help.
Think Spatial: What is it?
This club specializes in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) training and analysis and cartography: “Think Spatial is a consulting agency run by students to serve the geospatial needs of the BYU community, including students, faculty, and administration. Since 2013, we have made maps for scholarly publications, developed web mapping sites, helped administrative units develop spatial data, and assisted professors in conducting analysis for their research,” says Roman Huerta, the group’s president.
They provide training so that students can analyze, understand, and display their data in new ways. One-on-one sessions enable them to tailor their training so that students can create their own professional-looking maps.
HBLL Communications/PR Manager Roger Layton had much the same to say about Think Spatial: “I don’t have the final maps yet, but I’m happy with the maps I’ve seen. The students were great to work with. They asked good questions and they were very detail oriented in their work.” The club is making floor maps of the library. Layton anticipates that these will help us to better find what we are looking for.
It is this zeal coupled with the members’ talents that have pushed Think Spatial forward.
Hot-button social issues such as marriage and family, religious issues such as faith and science, and political issues such as education and international affairs have all long been examined by Brigham Young University. As a religious institution operating in an increasingly secular world, BYU provides education and academic research on those topics. The aims behind all of these endeavors is that they be spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building, and leading to lifelong learning and service. The Wheatley Institution, an on-campus think tank, seeks to forward those aims by contributing recognized scholarship that preserves and strengthens the core institutions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and BYU. Doing so, it claims, will both enhance the academic climate and scholarly reputation of BYU and enrich the experiences of students and faculty alike.
Many faculty members from BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are fellows of the Wheatley Institution or have otherwise been involved in some way. Perhaps most prominent among them is Jason S. Carroll, a popular professor in the School of Family Life. Professor Carroll is an internationally-recognized researcher and educator on various aspects of marriage, and has spoken at the Wheatley Institution, most recently on key lessons for young adults can prepare for marriage.
The Wheatley Institution holds numerous events throughout the course of the year in an effort to promote scholarship in line with BYU’s core values. The next one will be a presentation by United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein on November 17th.