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The road to wellness. The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, in collaboration with McLean Hospital and SAR Professor Gary Skrinar, has received an $85,000 grant from the Eli Lilly Company to begin a new wellness program for men and women with psychiatric disabilities. The program will begin this spring at McLean.

The new endeavor builds on a pilot program, Healthy Lifestyles, which provided wellness services to women with psychiatric disabilities. "Many women with mental illness are survivors of abuse, which can create a significant disconnect between the mind and body," says Dori Hutchinson, a SAR adjunct assistant professor and director of the wellness program. "Often, one of the consequences of a serious mental illness is a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutritional habits," she says. This, she adds, affects overall quality of life and is a barrier to recovery.

Hutchinson and her colleagues found that while many of the women they worked with knew the importance of healthy habits, they lacked the resources, knowledge, or coping abilities to achieve a healthy lifestyle. In working with other mental health colleagues, the researchers also discovered that many of these professionals themselves had little knowledge of personal wellness strategies.

"Often, psychiatric programs simply don't have the resources and staff to include wellness in their patients' recovery process," says Hutchinson. She points to a rise in the rate of premature death of women with psychiatric disabilities to emphasize the need for these types of wellness programs.

The program incorporates yoga and aerobic exercise, and participants regularly attend a seminar designed to teach skills and coping strategies.

As a result of the pilot program, Hutchinson and Sargent colleagues Lisa Bellafato and Renee Devereux created a printed guide for mental health practitioners. "We see this as a beginning," Hutchinson says. "It's designed to encourage professionals to focus on people's wellness, not their illness."

Venture capital: women need not apply? SMG Associate Professor Candida Brush and colleagues have examined the relationship between women-owned businesses and their access to, use of, and performance after receiving financing from venture capital firms.

"There are more than nine million women-owned businesses in the U.S.," says Brush, who specializes in management policy. "Yet of the 1,900 or so companies that received venture capital funding in 1997, fewer than 2.5 percent of them were owned by women."

Venture capital (VC) firms provide the financial support that allows a fledgling organization to grow rapidly -- and generate large profits. In their examination of 29 venture capital studies, Brush and colleagues found significant differences in both the types of industries that received funding and in the different stages of investment between the genders. For instance, most women-owned businesses are in the service and retail sectors. These slow-growing organizations are typically overlooked by VC firms, which seek a rapid return on their investment.

Brush and her fellow researchers believe that there are three possible reasons for the lack of funding and the differences in funding. "The VC network is tightly connected and male-dominated," she says. "Women and men have different organizational values, which may make women's ventures seem less legitimate."

They also believe women may be less willing to give up control of their company to a VC firm, which typically expects as much as 75 percent ownership of a business. This, they note, clashes with women's organizational styles, which tend to favor strategic expansion rather than the uncertainties of rapid growth.

"The VC community is missing opportunities to invest in women-owned businesses," says Brush. "Twenty percent of new companies between 1995 and 1998 were owned or managed by women, yet only two percent of them were funded by VCs."

Brush and colleagues will continue to explore various factors that affect women's VC funding. The study was presented at the 1999 Babson Kauffman Entrepreneurship Research Conference.

"Research Briefs" is written by Joan Schwartz in the Office of the Provost. To read more about BU research, visit


15 May 2003
Boston University
Office of University Relations