For the past 14 years, the Chicago Innovation Awards has recognized inventors, entrepreneurs, startups, and established companies alike in an effort to make Chicago a hub of innovation. Created by the Chicago Sun-Times and Kuczmarski & Associates in 2002, the Chicago Innovation Awards recognizes 10 Chicago area businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations that develop the year’s most innovative new products and services.
This year, UI CDR is honored to have clinician and researcher Dr. Jenna Duffecy nominated for a Social Innovation Award. Duffecy is the Director of CBT Research and Services at UIC and a clinician in the Anxiety and Mood Disorders Clinic. She recently created Sunnyside for Moms, an app that helps treat depression in pregnant low-income minority women. Launched in conjunction with a Women’s Mental Health Research Program, part of a larger UICDR initiative, Sunnyside for Moms screens pregnant and postpartum women from low-income Chicago neighborhoods for depression.
Duffecy attributes the success of her approach to the clinician/ scientist model. Early in her career as a researcher developing mental health interventions through emerging technologies, she maintained a private practice, so that she could have firsthand experience employing techniques that work. Today, as the director of CBT services in the mood disorder clinic, she continues this individualized therapeutic approach as a way of informing her research.
In a six-week trial including 25 women, Sunnyside decreased symptoms of depression, and was a marked success. Participants were better able to manage their mood and stress, and take on the responsibilities of motherhood. Sunnyside for Mom’s created protocols to follow up on screens for depression, so that appropriate interventions can be created that account for the social, cultural, and physical barriers to receiving care. This includes the CBT app, developing a protocol where CBT can be delivered over the phone, and a group therapy tailored to the needs of UIC obstetric patients.