Programs Areas and Research Initiatives
The four programs / initiatives of the HHI represent broad topic areas that help focus our future planning and development. They are not to be seen as mutually exclusive categories or specific projects but overlapping areas of inquiry, each intended to promote awareness, develop resources and tools, and provide support for individuals and families. The work of the Institute is focused around these four research initiatives: Child and Adolescent Wellbeing; Building Healthy Families and Relationships; Successful Aging & Later Life; Promoting Mental Health and Recovery.
Human development is best conceptualized as a holistic construct composed of emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual factors. The Child and Adolescent Wellbeing program is concerned with the interrelationships between the developing individual, their family, their faith, and the broader community. HHI scholars and fellows working in this program are engaged in projects to promote wellness and spiritual formation early in life and develop interventions to prevent and/or treat problem behaviors.
Strong families, and when possible strong marriages and supportive relationships, are the bedrock of society. Healthy couples understand that it requires learned and intentional efforts to build a happy and satisfying life with another person. All families encounter problems and challenges. It is how family members work together to address these concerns that is often the difference between a dysfunctional and a functional family system. The goal of the Building Healthy Families and Relationships initiative is to develop programs and interventions that promote the factors shown to be associated with safe, stable relationships across all family structures, races, incomes, and cultures.
Aging is a universal experience that results in significant changes that impact all aspects of a person’s life. Healthy or successful elder-hood can be characterized by positively adapting to the changes that come with age. Within the United States people 65 and over represented 12.4% of the population in the year 2000 but are expected to grow to be 19% of the population by 2030. To meet the needs of our aging population, HHI scholars and fellows working within the program for Successful Aging and Later Life are dedicated to understanding and promoting those factors that lead to wellness and health in later life.
Research has shown that individuals in psychological distress are more likely to go to a clergy member or ministry staff person before any other professional group. The church has a significant role to play in the lives of those struggling with addiction and mental health problems. Studies have shown that religious support offers resources to psychologically distressed individuals that are unavailable from general social support. Religious support is vital to recovery and wholeness. The aim of the Promoting Mental Health and Recovery initiative is to build bridges between the mental health and faith communities while equipping the church to effectively serve and support individuals in psychological distress.