All News

Social Work Ph.D. Student Saira Afzal Named a Health Policy Research Scholar 

October 10, 2022

Saira Afzal, a Ph.D. student in her second year at Bryn Mawr's Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research has been selected to be a Health Policy Research Scholar by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Designed for doctoral students from historically marginalized backgrounds and populations underrepresented in specific disciplines, the Health Policy Research Scholars program helps students from all fields apply their work to policies that advance equity and health while building a diverse network of leaders who reflect our changing national demographics.

As a member of the program’s newest cohort, Afzal will focus on the public health crisis of youth suicide, with an emphasis on the rising suicide rates among youth of color. Afzal is interested in developing ways to improve care for youth who present to emergency rooms in a mental health crisis and wait hours, days, or weeks for treatment at a mental health facility.

"My hope is to translate my research into program and policy level solutions that facilitate culturally responsive care for suicidal youth across service delivery systems," says Afzal.

Afzal is a licensed clinical social worker and currently practices at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a clinician on the Emergency Department/Extended Hours team. In this role, she has extensive experience working with children in mental health crises, child abuse, medical traumas, sexual assault incidents, and bereavements. She has taught courses on therapeutic modalities and treatment at Delaware State University. She intends to pursue a career in academia, with her research focusing on prevention and intervention related to youth suicide.