Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management
School of Applied Sciences, University of Mississippi

Substance Use & Mental Health Research Laboratory

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The Substance Use & Mental Health Research Lab focuses on projects aimed to better understand the epidemiology of mental health and substance use across the lifespan, examining these constructs through a developmental and public health lens. By implementing advanced research methodologies and analytic techniques, our lab explores the relationships between substance use, mental health, and achievement, with particular focus on associations with academic and employment outcomes among young adult and student populations.

Current & Upcoming Research Projects

UM STEM Equity Study. Funded by the University of Mississippi’s Achieving Equity Investment Grants Program, we are currently collecting data on the experiences of Black/African-American undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in STEM programs. Using a daily diary design, we are exploring links between daily exposure to minority stress and health, social, and academic outcomes among students who have been historically underrepresented in the STEM disciplines.

Substance Use and Attitudes, Behaviors, and Risks Related to COVID-19. In partnership with faculty and graduate student researchers in the HESRM department, we are currently analyzing data collected in Fall 2020 exploring the relationship between alcohol and other drug use behavior with COVID-19 among college students. This study aims to examine potential links between the quantity, frequency, and context of college student substance use with COVID-19 attitudes, prevention behaviors, and exposure.

Mental Health Help-Seeking Among College Athletes. To better understand how athletic identity and team culture are related to mental health help-seeking, our lab has partnered with UM Campus Recreation to explore these relationships among club sport athletes. This research project assesses the prevalence of mental health problems and treatment among this unique group of college athletes, examining differences by type of sport, level of physical activity, team engagement, and stigma around seeking help for mental health concerns.

Daily Associations Between Alcohol Use and Work Productivity. Using a daily diary study design, our lab is launching a research project to test the relationships between alcohol use and work stress, productivity, and engagement among employed young adults. With participants completing daily assessments for 14 consecutive days, our study will shed light on how daily work stress and success are associated with same-day alcohol use as well as how alcohol use might predict next-day work outcomes.

Trends in Substance Use and Mental Health Across the First Year in Academia. Launching soon, this study will assess undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members throughout their first year in their new academic role. Using a longitudinal study design, participants will complete monthly assessments examining their mental health, substance use, social support, and academic and work outcomes. The goal of this project is to understand how substance use and mental health change across this time period and how they are related to the success of students and faculty as they transition into new roles on college campuses.

Faculty & Students

Dr. Hannah Allen, Lab Director

Assistant Professor of Public Health & Health Sciences

Nash Clark, Graduate Research Assistant

Annabelle Deen, Graduate Research Assistant

Janita Springfield, Graduate Research Assistant

William Brady Suttles, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kathleen Walsh, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Tu “Tina” Cam Thi Truong, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Learn More

If you are looking to partner with us on research related to substance use and mental health or are an undergraduate or graduate student interested in gaining research experience, please contact the lab director, Dr. Hannah Allen, at