|Title:||Professor, Clinical Psychology; Affiliated with Developmental Psychology Program; Ph.D.|
Ph.D., University of Chicago
The focus of my research has been on the daily experience and mental health and well being of adolescents with the extensive use of a time sampling technique called the Experience Sampling Method (ESM). In the last decade my focus has been on the health, and mental health of low income, urban African American youth. Two large NIMH funded data sets have allowed the examination of multiple relevant constructs by my students and me in the form of publications, master’s theses, and dissertations. Focused more specifically on exposure to violence, in particular, community violence, and what contributes to it, as well as the effects of exposure, one dataset is composed of a cross sectional sample of 5th through 8th grade students and the other consists of a longitudinal study starting with 6th grade and following the students once a year through the 8th grade.
Consistent exposure to violence and stress can lead to the development of problem behaviors, gang/clique engagement, and diminished quality of life. African American and Latino-American youth living in low income urban families and communities are most affected by these daily social and economic disadvantages. Positive relationships with significant adults and peers, and the development of protective coping factors foster resilience in these youth. My lab is engaged in an ongoing collaboration with CeaseFire in two of Chicago’s high violence, low income communities.
One of the lab projects is testing the effectiveness of an intervention, Civic Engagement Curriculum with CeaseFire modifications (CEC-CF), designed to decrease stress and increase coping in urban minority youth located in the high violence and low income Chicago community of Englewood. Our preliminary studies suggest that this 15 session positive psychology, community based approach to intervention will yield enhanced empowerment, and better mental health, including less problematic behaviors. Peer Circles and Restorative Justice create a frame for this work. This project has the important goals of 1) preventing negative outcomes related to violence exposure/engagement and promoting positive development, 2) disseminating knowledge at both the community and academic levels, and 3) eventual implementation in other low income urban communities. A community based cross-age peer mentoring program has emerged from this work. We are in the midst of submitting grants to fund this work.
A second project involves a collaboration with Enlace, a community based organization that serves the Little Village neighborhoods, where residents are Mexican American. We are creating a GIS mapping project to understand better the experience of the youth who live there, with the goal of reducing their exposure to, and engagement in, community violence.
My work is highly collaborative and I invite students with interests in these areas to work with me.
Recent Publications (My Graduate Students in Bold)
Bohnert, A., Burdette, K., Dugas, L., Travers, L., Randall, E., Richards, M., & Luke, A. (in press). Multi-method analyses of discretionary time use and health behaviors among urban low-income African American adolescents: A pilot study. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.
Richards, M.H., Sanderson, R.C., Celio, C.I., Choi, I., Grant, J., & Deane, K. (2013). Service-learning in early adolescence: Results of a school-based curriculum. Journal of Experiential Education, 36 (1), 5 - 21, DOI 10.1177/1053825913481580.
Thomas, A., Carey, D., Richards, M.H., Velsor-Friedrich, B., Romero, E., & Pittman, K. (2012). African-American youth and exposure to community violence: Supporting change from the inside. Journal of Social Action in Counseling and
Psychology, 4 (1), 54-68.
Velsor-Friedrich, B., Militello, L.K., Richards, M.H., Harrison, P.R., Gross, I.M., Romero, E., & Bryant, F.B. (2012). Effects of coping-skills training in low- income urban African-American adolescents with asthma. Journal of Asthma. 49(4):372-9. Epub 2012 Feb 21.
O’Donnell, P.C., Richards, M., & Pearce, S., Romero, E. (2012). Gender Differences in Monitoring and Deviant Peers as Predictors of Delinquent Behavior among Low-Income Urban African American Youth. Journal of Early Adolescence, 32
(3), 430 - 458.
Boyce, C.A., Robinson, W.L., & Richards, M.H. (2011) Introduction: Burgeoning directions for the prevention of youth violence. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community. Special Issue: Innovative Community-based
Approaches to Violence Prevention for Urban Youth, 39, 93-97.
Special Editor of Special Issue: With Cheryl A. Boyce and W. Lavome Robinson. Innovative Community-based Approaches to Violence Prevention for Urban Youth. Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 39 (2) 2011.
Sweeney, C. Goldner, J., & Richards, M. (2011). Daily emotional experience and exposure to violence. Journal of prevention and Intervention in the Community. Special Issue: Innovative Community-based Approaches to Violence
Prevention for Urban Youth, 39, 114-131.
Goldner, J., Peters, T., Richards, M. H. & Pearce, S. (2011) Exposure to Community Violence and Protective and Risky Contexts Among Low Income Urban African American Adolescents: A Prospective Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 174-186.