- Ph.D., University of Tennessee, 1983
- M.A., University of Tennessee, 1980
- B.A., Temple University, 1978
As director of Youth-Nex, Patrick H. Tolan champions the center’s mission to promote healthy youth development to enhance the potential of youth as healthy, productive citizens, and reduce developmental risk through focused research, training, and service.
Youth-Nex is a University-wide nexus for innovative and translational research that bridges to practice. It is the only center in the country accommodating simultaneous work on multiple aspects of youth development including mental health, educational functioning, citizenship, social functioning and physical health. The center brings new and exciting potential for advancement in this emerging and important area of study.
Biography and Research Interests
In the 4 years since assuming his role as founding director of Youth-Nex, Tolan has focused on connecting his prior work in mental health problem prevention to the emerging fields of positive youth development and youth capability. He also focuses on connecting diverse scholarship across the University around this important issue. With over 20 faculty involved and multiple federal and foundation studies underway, the center is now the nexus of such work. The annual conference highlighting different aspects of youth development draws over 100 participants in areas of research, practice, and policy.
Tolan continues to work from the developmental-ecological approach that has characterized his risk and prevention efforts for 30 years. He is a frequent consultant to agencies, government groups and foundations advising and presenting at hearings, meetings, and institutions around the country, including board membership for the Blueprints for Youth Development and Violence Prevention. He has been the Principal Investigator on multiple National Institute of Health (NIH) and other funded projects and he has authored over 160 publications.
Current projects include studies of effective development of inner-city children and families, how neighborhoods affect development, classroom management training to enable new teachers to be effective, identifying and measuring processes that explain the benefits of mentoring, development and evaluation of a mindfulness based health education curriculum, and evaluation of community collaborations to affect middle school children.
Tolan was co-editor of a special issue of Child Development (2011)—the flagship journal for child development research. He is also co-editor of the book, Disruptive Behavior Disorders, part of the Advances in Development and Psychopathology: Brain Research Foundation Symposium Series (Springer, 2013) and a forthcoming special issue of Journal of Research in Adolescence on positive youth development implications for intervention research. Other writings include “Children’s mental health as a primary care and concern: A system for comprehensive support and service,” published in 2005 in American Psychologist based on work when Tolan was chair of the American Psychological Association’s Working Group on Children’s Mental Health (1999-2001).