School Mental Health Minority Youth & Families Lab

About the School Mental Health for Minority Youth and Families Research Lab

The School Mental Health for Minority Youth and Families (SMILE) Research Lab is directed by Dr. Prerna Arora in the School Psychology Program at the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. Our lab’s mission is to promote collaborative research to increase access to culturally-informed mental health care for underserved youth and adolescents. Our vision for SMILE lab is that it will serve as a platform for collaboration and dissemination of youth and adolescent mental health research, as well as for the training of students within the field of psychology.

What We Do

Our lab aims to promote mental health among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and immigrant-origin youth and families by supporting research that can be translated into interventions impacting communities and populations that are historically underserved. Efforts towards this goal include:

  • Identifying risk and protective factors in the development of depressive disorders among ethnic minority and immigrant-origin youth
  • Examining barriers to help-seeking among ethnic minority and immigrant-origin youth and families
  • Developing and implementing culturally-informed school- and community-based prevention and intervention programming for youth internalizing disorders

Research Interests

  • Ethnic Minority and Immigrant-Origin Youth and Families
  • Culturally-Informed Evidenced Based Practices
  • Standardizing Cultural Adaptations of Evidence-Based Interventions
  • School Based Mental Health
  • Mental Health Care Access and Engagement
  • Participatory Action Research
  • Integrated Behavioral Health in Pediatric Primary Care

TC Student Involvement

The SMILE Lab doctoral and master students work closely with Dr. Arora in both project-team specific meetings, group lab meetings, and individual mentoring sessions. In addition to contributing to ongoing research, doctoral students are expected to engage in independent, mentored research including presenting their work at national conferences and submitting their work for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals. As leaders on the team, doctoral students also mentor master's research assistants. 

Dr. Arora is recruiting graduate students for the 2021-2022 academic year. Research positions are filled on a rolling basis.

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