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Last modified: Thursday, April 1, 2010

IU's Bryan McCormick awarded Fulbright Scholarship to study mental illness in Serbia

April 1, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Bryan McCormick, associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies in Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, has received a Fulbright Scholarship to examine the influence of different levels of urbanization on the social interaction and psychosocial functioning of people with serious mental illness who live in Eastern Europe.

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Bryan McCormick

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An important component of the award involves lectures to medical and nursing students about related issues, including obesity and the health of people with serious mental illness, which is an ongoing focus of McCormick's research in the U.S. In Eastern and Central Europe, McCormick says, psychiatric training focuses more on prescribing medicine rather than rehabilitation, which can teach important skills needed for living in a community.

"Their medical education is very different than in the U.S.," McCormick said. "The lectures give me an opportunity to talk with medical and nursing students about rehabilitation, to suggest they think beyond prescribing medicine to consider how people might recover or develop skills that might help them function in their everyday lives."

McCormick's combined teaching and lecturing award begins in fall 2010 with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Kragujevac, in Kragujevac, Serbia. The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, sends around 800 U.S. faculty and professionals abroad each year to exchange knowledge with their counterparts in other countries.

McCormick's project is titled, "Social context and schizophrenia in a changing system of services: The role of urbanization in the functioning of Serbians with schizophrenia."

Mental health systems in Serbia, as well as in most Balkan states, are considered "developing" because they have been crippled by a lack of money since the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Many people living in mental health institutions in Serbia, for example, would be receiving treatment from community mental health services in the United States.

Studies have shown that people with schizophrenia fare better in developing countries than in developed countries. McCormick is examining the role urbanization plays in this phenomenon. It could be, he says, that people living in urban areas have fewer social connections and as a result, when people with schizophrenia begin struggling and showing symptoms, there may be few people to notice until they become very symptomatic at which time they may be more likely to end up in the criminal justice system, rather than the mental health system.

His research will involve collecting data on social networks and social integration and psychosocial functioning among people with schizophrenia in three different-sized towns in Serbia. Data will be collected on companionship and social support networks as well as functioning in areas of work, home, leisure and social relationships. More broadly, he is interested in studying the differences in how people with mental illnesses have fared since the breakup of former Yugoslavia and the transition for member states from a communist economy to a free market.

McCormick can be reached at 812-855-3482 and