Texas Tech University
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on several projects related to parent-youth and youth-youth communication about mental health. We’re hoping to better understand how parents, peers, and media can help youth proactively seek treatment for mental health challenges they experience.
What has been your most memorable project so far, and why?
The Daniel Tiger projects. We looked at children’s exposure to the TV show and to its associated app. A fun part of the project was telling parents that it’s okay to have their kids watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I love the show and the characters just as much as anyone else, but because we watched it so much during the research, I think I’ve seen enough episodes to last me for quite some time.
Which achievement are you most proud of, and why?
In life—our kids. As a researcher, I love hearing from parents who see my research and tell me how it positively impacted their family. And my collection of root beer bottles.
What is an important question from parents and practitioners that we as academics cannot provide a good answer to yet?
What is the relationship between media and mental health? We’re learning that there is likely a transactional process going on, for good and for bad, but we’re just dipping our toes in the water on understanding how media can be used to support mental health.
What would be your work motto?
Working as an academic is what I do, not who I am.
Which of your publications is your favorite, and why?
Rasmussen, E. E., & Densley, R. L. (2017). Girl in a country song: Gender roles and objectification of women in popular country music across 1990 to 2014. Sex Roles, 3, 188-201.
This one hit home the hardest for me. I’m married to an intelligent, beautiful woman, and together we have four daughters. There’s nothing I want more than for each of them to have a strong sense of self-worth. I think they are exposed to too many messages that tell them their worth is based on their appearance or on what they can do for others. What I think they need to hear more are messages about their worth being inherent, simply because they exist, that there is nothing they can do that will diminish their worth, and that they don’t need to base their sense of worth on anything anyone else says or does. If you haven’t heard “Girl in a Country Song” by Maddie & Tae, go give it a listen.
If you had unlimited resources, what kind of project would you want to do and why?
I would want to follow a large cohort of children, youth, and parents over a long period of time to learn as much as we can about mental health, media, and interpersonal relationships.
If you had to give one piece of advice to young CAM scholars, what would it be?
Learn to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. Going through grad school and the tenure process can take a negative toll on each of these facets of health, and it takes intention and diligence to do what we do in a way that maintains our well-being. I find healing in family time, exercising, woodworking, drinking root beer, and in making an effort to extend healing to others.
Who would you like to put in the spotlight next, and why?
Kathrin Karsay. Kathrin is as good as they come when it comes to research, optimism, collegiality, and dedication to her craft. She’s someone we all need to keep an eye on moving forward to see what she contributes to the field.