Faculty and Staff Directory

Shannon Hughes, PhD, MSW

Shannon Hughes Assistant Professor

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)

Contact information

Education 119
1586 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1586
(970) 491-5654

Areas of Interest: Critical perspectives in mental health and psychopharmacology, psychosocial and peer-run alternatives for persons in acute mental/emotional distress, subjective treatment experiences, training helping professionals to improve prescribing practices, and advancing the role of social work in psychopharmacology.

Grand Challenges for Social Work: Ensure healthy development for all youth; Eradicate social isolation


Dr. Shannon Hughes teaches, writes, and conducts research about the medicalization of human distress and the role of psychotropic drugs in managing our mental and emotional lives. She teaches courses in advanced research methods and psychopharmacology, which are designed to guide helping professionals in thinking critically about drug use in the current mental health system, minimize harms in the helping relationship, and advance Social Work leadership in transforming mental health systems. Dr. Hughes is a co-facilitator of a Hearing Voices Group in Northern Colorado and is actively involved in supporting peer movements in her state, with a particular interest in the development of peer respite and psychosocial alternatives to hospitalization for persons experiencing acute distress or extreme states. Dr. Hughes also leads study abroad and service trips to Maharashtra, India where students have the opportunity to learn about Social Work in an international context and engage with Indian communities, non-profit organizations, grassroots activists, and social work students all working towards social justice in various fields of practice.

Through a Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care grant, Dr. Hughes is piloting an innovative program to build social connections among young people experiencing depression and anxiety. Our relationships to ourselves, our friends and community, and the environment we inhabit are the most important things we have in life. Our increasing disconnection to these things is a major contributing factor to mental and emotional health problems. Dr. Hughes' work aims to support the healthy development of young people by placing our need for relationships and connection at the center of program planning.

Degree Information

Doctor of Philosophy, 2010, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University
Master of Social Work, 2004, Social Policy and Administration, College of Social Work, Florida State University
Bachelor of Social Work, 2002, College of Social Work, Florida State University

Academic Appointments

2013 to present - Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, School of Social Work
2010 to 2013 - Assistant Professor, Utah State University, Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Funded Grants

2017 “A learning and self-development approach for supporting young persons with mood-related distress” (PI). Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, $91,596.

Community service responsibilities and activities for the last 3 years

2018 to present Board Member (volunteer), Inner Compass Initiative 501c3 non-profit
2017-present Board Member, The Nowak Society 501c3, Boulder, CO
2016-present Co-facilitator, Hearing Voices Peer Support Group, Hearing Voices Network USA

Professional presentations presented during the last 5 years

Cohen, D., Hughes, S., & Lacasse, J. Evaluation of a critical skills curriculum on psychotropic medications for child welfare professionals. National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium, Berkeley, CA, May 22-24, 2018.

Lacasse, J., Hughes, S., & Spaulding-Givens, J. Adverse effects and treatment satisfaction among online users of four antidepressants. Society for Social Work and Research (poster presentation), Washington, D.C., January 10-14, 2018.

Hughes, S. Articulating the narrative of a unified alternatives movement in mental health. National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, Portland, Maine, September 6-9, 2017.

Hughes, S. Whose voice counts more? How subjective treatment experiences are negotiated in routine mental health practice. International Congress on Law and Mental Health, Prague, Czech Republic, July 9-14, 2017.

Hughes, S. Social workers as partners and leaders in transforming systems of mental health care. International Network Toward Alternatives to Recovery, Pune, India, November 26-28, 2016.

Hughes, S. Psychotropic drug experiences collectively challenge standard mental health practices. National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, Phoenix, Arizona, August 25-28, 2016.

Hughes, S. Psychopharmacology for the helping professions: Re-conceptualizing how psychiatric drugs impact clients. Colorado Counseling Association Conference, Denver, Colorado, April 22-23, 2016.

Lacasse, J., & Hughes, S. Examining the sensitivity and specificity of DSM-5 categories. Poster presentation at the Society for Social Work and Research annual conference, Washington, D.C., January 14-17, 2016.

Hughes, S. Consumer reporting of the psychotropic drug experience: Towards an integrated knowledge base. International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry, Los Angeles, California, November 14-16, 2014.

Hughes, S., Lacasse, J., & Narendorf, S. Is graduate psychopharmacology curriculum preparing social workers for practice with medicated clients? Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Tampa, Florida, October 23-26, 2014.

Hughes, S., Peak, T., & McMurray, B. Mental health courts and the dilemmas of therapeutic jurisprudence. Intermountain Mental Health Court Conference, Logan, Utah, July 10-12, 2014.

Hughes, S. Consumer reporting of psychiatric drug effects across the Internet: Improved methods for understanding drug harms. MobileMed, Prague, Czech Republic, November 20, 2013.

Hughes, S. Underreporting of harms in pharmaceutical company-sponsored psychotropic drug research: The need for social workers’ increased involvement in medication-related issues. Society for Social Work and Research, San Diego, California, January 16-20, 2013.

Selected Publications

Ciovacco, L., & Hughes, S. (2017). Sanity of addiction: Buddhist-inspired reflections on the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Click here for online publication.

Spaulding-Givens, J., Hughes, S., & Lacasse, J. (in press). Money matters: Participants’ purchasing experiences in a budget authority model of self-directed care.Journal of American Orthopsychiatry.

Hughes, S., Lacasse, J., Fuller, R., & Spaulding-Givens, J. (2017). Adverse effects and treatment satisfaction among online users of four antidepressants.Psychiatry Research, 255, 78-86.

Hughes, S., Narendorf, S., Lacasse, J. (2017). A national survey of graduate education in psychopharmacology: Advancing the social work perspective on psychiatric medication.Journal of Social Work Education, 53(3), 424-434.

Hughes, S. & Matheson, A. (2016). Subjectively experienced benefits and harms of antipsychotics according to users’ first-hand accounts on the Internet.Journal of Ethical Human Psychiatry and Psychology, 18(3), 196-217.

Hughes, S., Cohen, D., Johnson, R. (2016). Adverse event assessment methods in published trials of psychotropic drugs: Poor reporting and neglect of emerging safety concerns. International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, 28, 101-14.

Hughes, S., Cohen, D., & Jaggi, R. (2014). Differences in reporting serious adverse events in industry sponsored clinical trial registries and journal articles on antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs – A cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 4, e005535. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005535

Hughes, S., & Peak, T. (2013). A critical perspective on the role of psychotropic medications in mental health courts. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(2), 244-265.

Hughes, S., & Peak, T. (2012). Evaluating mental health courts as an “ideal” mental health intervention. Best Practices in Mental Health: An International Journal, 8(2), 20-37.

Cohen, D., & Hughes, S. (2011). How do people taking psychiatric drugs explain their “chemical imbalance?” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 13(3), 176-189.

Hughes, S., & Cohen, D. (2011). Can online consumers contribute to drug knowledge? A mixed-methods comparison of consumer-generated and professionally controlled psychotropic medication information on the Internet. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(3), e53.

Hughes, S., & Cohen, D. (2010). Understanding the assessment of psychotropic drug harms in clinical trials to improve social workers’ role in medication monitoring. Social Work, 55(2), 105-115.

Hughes, S., & Cohen, D. (2009). A systematic review of long-term studies of drug treated and non-drug treated depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 118(1), 9-18.

Cohen, D., Hughes, S., & Jacobs, D. (2009). The deficiencies of drug treatment: The case of Strattera. In S. Timimi & J. Leo (eds.), Rethinking ADHD: From brain to culture (pp. 313-333). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.