My research focuses on the mental health and service utilization of individuals from underserved groups experiencing symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Specifically, I explore the illness and recovery experiences of Black Americans, particularly those with depression. The goal of my research is not only to contribute to the existing scholarship on depression, help-seeking and service use among Black Americans, but to also push the field forward by taking into the account the heterogeneity of the Black American population. By examining variations in their experiences, I hope to better understand mental illness in Black communities as well as inform the design of more culturally-informed and thus, culturally-appropriate, interventions aimed at the treatment of mental illness among Black Americans and the improvement of their overall mental health and wellbeing.
My research also pays particular attention to the role that race, class and gender play into how patients/clients are seen, heard and treated in clinical settings. Specifically, I focus on how racism, sexism and classism impact those crucial doctor-patient interactions and subsequent medical treatment. Moving beyond simply noting that disparities exist based on a person’s identity, my work looks closely at how power, privilege and discrimination turn an identity marker into a marginalized status that leave certain patients/clients underserved and particular health service providers underrepresented in their fields.
To date, I have co-edited a special issue of Best Practices in Mental Health entitled “Social determinants of behavioral health disparities: Best practice approaches” as well as have quite a number of peer-reviewed articles in print or under review in top journal articles like Social Science & Medicine, the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, Advances in Social Work, the Journal of Behavioral Services & Research, and Qualitative Social Work. I am a firm believer that one’s research and scholarship is only as good as its reach into the very spaces that it is investigating. To that end, I have used various venues to disseminate my research-based knowledge, having given numerous juried and invited professional presentations before learned societies and professional organizations at the local, national and international levels. I have also been featured in press across the nation, recorded podcasts, given community presentations, and conducted continuing education sessions on topics related to mental health and well-being. Well-attended community, university, and course presentations round out the reach of my research.