The Trust and APF Announce 2017 Eric A. Harris, Ed.D., J.D. Grant Winner

 Matthew Podlogar The Trust and the American Psychological Foundation (APF) are excited to announce the 2017 winner of the inaugural APF/The Trust Eric A. Harris Ed.D., J.D. Grant. This $5,000 grant will support an early career psychologist or graduate in their research or projects in the area of ethics and risk management.

Congratulations to Matthew Podlogar, a student at Florida State University, who received the grant for his proposal: Investigating the Selection Choice of ‘Prefer Not to Disclose’ in Self-Report Suicide Risk Screening. The award is the first major research grant Podlogar has won and it came at the perfect time.

“The last thing holding me up was how to pay my participants,” says Podlogar.

His study focuses on three groups: military members and veterans, men over the age of 50, and LGBTQ youth. The first two groups have been difficult to recruit, Podlogar admits, but that population is an important component of his research. Podlogar served six years in the Army National Guard and worked in the Medical Service Corps.

“My experience in the military and other medical experiences pushed me into this particular field,” says Podlogar, who notes that in recent years suicide has claimed more military lives than combat, according to government statistics.

One of the tools often used by the military, colleges, hospitals and other entities to identify mental health problems is risk screenings which typically contain a series of questions to assess an individual’s current state and potential concerns. Suicide risk screenings often have two options to answer each question: yes or no. Podlogar wants to know if adding a third option, “prefer not to disclose”, to self-report screenings will make a difference, and ultimately save lives.

“Suicide risk screening is necessary and absolutely critical,” says Podlogar, “People don’t want to say ‘yes’ for many reasons… the big game is to look at what’s going on there.”

In a preliminary study of undergraduate students at FSU, he found that participants who chose the third option had a greater distrust of (health) professionals, fear of the stigma of mental illness, and/or they did not want to be a burden to others. His research has a long way to go but the Eric A. Harris, Ed.D., J.D. grant will help tremendously in achieving his goal.

Podlogar works at FSU’s Laboratory for the Study and Prevention of Suicide-Related Conditions and Behaviors under the leadership of the director, Thomas Joiner, Ph.D. He expects to graduate in August 2018. Later this summer, he will start an internship at the Aurora Mental Health Center in his home state of Colorado.

The grant was established by The Trust and the American Psychological Foundation to honor Eric A. Harris Ed.D., J.D., a lifelong contributor to the discipline and profession of psychology as well as a longtime member of The Trust’s Advocate 800 Risk Management consultant team. The Trust recognizes Dr. Harris as a model for individuals pursuing a distinguished career in psychology.