Gio Iacono, PhD is an Assistant Professor in UConn’s School of Social Work and is a psychotherapist and clinical social worker by training.
Before becoming a researcher, Iacono worked as a clinician with youth in community health centers who experienced intersectional marginalization (e.g. homelessness, homophobia, racism, and transphobia). Iacono observed that mainstream mental health interventions were not equitable for marginalized groups. Consequently, he decided to work with LGBTQ youth to ensure their perspectives would be embedded in the research, interventions, and programs he developed in order to improve cultural competence with representation and inclusion.
“The understanding that there are pervasive mental health disparities and trauma among diverse LGBTQ youth led to my desire to figure out more effective and culturally-responsive ways of helping LGBTQ youth” says Iacono. After Iacono obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto, he decided to focus on “mindfulness and contemplative practices that would help address trauma and psychological issues among LGBTQ youth.”
Involvement with CSCH
Iacono’s work is highly interdisciplinary and focuses on young people and their mental health and well-being. He joined CSCH because he believes his work is aligned with the missions of the Collaboratory. “There is a strong focus on ways to bring inclusive and anti-racist approaches to doing research with young people,” says Iacono. Iacono has been focused on figuring out ways to teach and implement skills that address racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression from an empowerment perspective. “I want to further test affirmative mindfulness-based and trauma-informed interventions for LGBTQ youth” and would like to collaborate and connect with people in CSCH and the broader UConn community to develop more multidisciplinary approaches to improving mental health among LGBTQ youth.”
Iacono used to be a DJ! He still enjoys mixing music and uses mindfulness walking to de-stress. He also has a cat named Puba.