Pearson Clinical, the company best known for its psychological assessments, has donated more than $50,000 to the American Psychological Foundation to continue its support of early career research on serious mental illness and other areas of critical social need.

The donation extends for three years the Pearson Early Career Grant program, which has given grants of $12,000 to up-and-coming researchers every year since 2009.

"We do a lot to support new science and research because we understand that's where the next big ideas in psychology are going to come from," says Carol Watson, president of Pearson's Clinical Assessment business in North America.

Pearson's first two grantees have already shown great promise in helping people with serious mental illness cope with everyday challenges, says Watson. 2009 grantee Daniel Antonius, PhD, of the New York University School of Medicine, used his award to test a squishy, football-shaped stress ball he designed to help people with serious mental illness defuse their aggression. Antonius also scents the ball with octyl acetate, an orange-smelling chemical compound that research has found can reduce people's levels of salivary cortisol, a biomarker for stress and agitation. He's found that the stress ball reduces patients' stress, anxiety and anger, and increases their happiness.

"Many patients have insisted on taking it home upon being discharged," from their psychiatric hospital, says Antonius. "Several other departments here are now showing interest in testing it on other clinical populations."

2010 Pearson grantee Daryn David, PhD, of Yale University School of Medicine, used her funds to develop a pamphlet to help young mothers with serious mental illness balance their mental health needs with their parenting responsibilities. She is now studying whether these mothers have an easier time with parenting once they've read her booklet, compared with women who haven't.

In 2013, the Pearson award will offer an additional perk: Each winner will also receive a $1,500 travel stipend so they can present their work at APA's Annual Convention.

The deadline for the 2013 Pearson Early Career Grant is Dec. 31.