Published: May 1, 2019

MSU experts for Mental Health Month

Contact(s): Caroline Brooks Communications and Brand Strategy office: 517-432-0920

May 1 marks the beginning of Mental Health Month, and Michigan State University has a host of experts ready to discuss a breadth of related issues, ranging from childhood bullying to anxiety, to couples therapy and to schizophrenia.

Experts include:

Farha Abbasi, a psychiatrist in MSU's Department of Psychiatry, specializes in providing culturally appropriate care to Muslim patients and communities. She can discuss issues including cultural psychiatry, bullying and harassment among Muslim children and the psychological effects and implications of traumatic events related to terrorism and other acts of violence. Abbasi can be reached at (517) 353-4363,

Bengt Arnetz, professor and chair of MSU's Department of Family Medicine. Arnetz can speak to the mental readiness of first responders who handle emergency situations including police officers, firefighters, paramedics and 911 dispatchers. Often times, these responders are faced with extremely stressful situations causing impulse control to decrease dramatically. He can provide additional insight into what can happen physiologically in these crisis situations and what can be done to counteract these stress reactions. Arnetz can be reached at (616) 234-0966 or

William Chopik, a social psychologist who studies how relationships – and the people in them – change over time and across situations. Named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Science” in 2015, Chopik’s work has explored the health and happiness of married couples, the best states for lovers and the empathy of Americans. Chopik can be reached at (517) 355-6645,

Kimberly Fenn, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, directs MSU’s Sleep and Learning Lab. She and investigates the effect of sleep and sleep deprivation on mental health and memory. Among Fenn’s findings: Sleep deprivation is linked to false confessions and people learn while they sleep. Fenn can be reached at (517) 432-6258,

Jennifer Johnson, the C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health, conducts NIH-funded research that looks at the effectiveness of mental health and substance use interventions for vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, prisoners and jail detainees. Johnson can be reached at (810) 600-5669,

Jed Magen, a psychiatrist who specializes in the psychological effects of opioid use and childhood/adolescent psychiatry. He can discuss bipolar and anxiety disorders. Magen can be reached at (517) 353-4363,

Jason Moser, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety-related problems, with a specific focus on exposure-based therapies for obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Moser’s research and clinical expertise is in anxiety-related problems and their impact on people’s lives. He looks at how anxiety impacts students’ and community members’ ability to bounce back after making mistakes, stay focused and control their negative feelings using a variety of methods, including neuroimaging techniques like electroencephalogram, or EEG. Moser can be reached at (517) 355-2159,

Natalie Moser, a licensed psychologist, whose expertise include the treatment of children and families. She has a background in pediatric health psychology and works with children who have medical conditions or pain. Moser created a group therapy program for children who have been victims of bullying – Getting Back Up Again. It is a skill-based, supportive group that runs approximately once per year out of the MSU Psychological Clinic. Moser can be reached at (517) 355-9564,

Joanne Riebschleger, associate professor of social work, is an international expert in mental health literacy among children and young adults. Her research particularly focuses on children, teens and young adults, including those living with a family member with a mental illness. Riebschleger can be reached at (517) 353-9746,

Robert Smith, a University Distinguished Professor in medicine and psychiatry. It's estimated that 85 percent of all mental health care is provided by primary care physicians, yet only 2 percent of their training is devoted to the health issue. Smith can discuss potential solutions that can help arm these physicians with better training and also discuss the current medical environment, which often can't effectively handle those with mental health issues. Smith can be reached at

Katharine Thakkar, assistant professor of psychology with clinical and research expertise in schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Psychosis refers to the loss of reality that includes symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. Her specific research interest is in understanding how changes in cognitive functioning as well as brain function and structure may give rise to the symptoms of psychotic disorders. Thakkar can be reached at (517) 884-8489,

Andrea Wittenborn, associate professor of human development and family studies and an expert on improving outcomes of treatment for depression. She can discuss couple therapy and depression; depression among men; and developing and evaluating treatment for depression, as well as testing methods of personalizing treatment to fit the needs of a given patient. Wittenborn can be reached at (517) 432-2263,

Cara Poland, a physician and certified addiction specialist, can discuss the current opioid crisis, as well as the lack of doctors in Michigan who are certified in the area of addiction. She is currently leading a program with MSU, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health that will train more physicians as specialists by streamlining the certification process. Poland can be reached at (616) 486.5249,