UT Health Science Center San Antonio faculty member receives research grant

Study to evaluate mental health recovery and wellness program

AUSTIN, Texas (May 25,2010) — Rebecca Bonugli, Ph.D., RN, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Nursing Care at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has received a grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to determine if people with mental health conditions benefit from a recovery and wellness training program.

Her proposal was selected from a pool of 47 applicants from 19 universities across Texas. The foundation awarded 10 grants totaling nearly $150,000.

Dr. Bonugli, who has received a $15,000 grant, will evaluate the effectiveness of Focus for Life, a consumer-driven and consumer-led training program that promotes recovery and wellness of people with mental illness. Developed by Janet Paleo and Anna Gray, M.Ed., of Pro International, the program emphasizes empowerment while training participants to be resilient in their own lives and to become peer specialists who work with others with mental health conditions. According to Dr. Bonugli, this approach is believed to enhance personal well-being and result in better treatment outcomes.

“Individuals living with mental health issues developed this strength-based, wellness-oriented recovery program that challenges traditional treatment models,” Dr. Bonugli said. “My goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of this cutting-edge, peer-to-peer program.”

The study will focus on two Texas communities, Big Spring and Conroe, where local mental health authorities identified the need for this type of program.

“Peer programs such as Focus for Life are as important to people with mental health conditions as they are for people with cancer or diabetes. The ability to share feelings and experiences with one another can be a tremendous aid in achieving recovery and wellness,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.



The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation’s grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 2 percent of all U.S. institutions receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced 27,000 graduates. The $753 million operating budget supports six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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