Mental Health Equity and Inclusion Program
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Tye Hunt-Harrison to lead our program on mental health equity. This program takes a deep dive into the troubling and complex issues around mental health equity, and helps our department make important changes in the way we deliver clinical care and partner with the community. The program will have a strong clinical focus but also a research component that will be led by faculty member, Dr. Tamara Baker.
Learn more about the Mental Health Equity Residency Education Track here
Tyehimba Hunt-Harrison, MD, MPH re-joined the department in April 2021 to develop and lead the Mental Health Equity Program within the Department of Psychiatry. She is joined by Tamara Baker, PhD who leads the research component of the program. In May 2021, the core advisory group (comprised of psychiatry residents, researchers, and clinicians) was formed to assist in the development of a multi-year roadmap that will build upon the department’s DEI momentum. The mission is to expand the department’s efforts towards achieving and sustaining equity in access, engagement, and provision of high quality mental and behavioral health care services to historically under-represented and marginalized groups.
The program’s three overarching and intersecting domains for advancing mental health equity are:
- Patient Care– We are committed to eliminating the barriers to access and treatment, as well as improving the interface between the patient and provider.
- Research- We are committed to increasing the diversity of researchers by outreach, mentoring, and research training opportunities. In addition, we are focused on increasing studies to eliminate healthcare disparities and the inclusion of a more diverse and representative study population.
- Education– We are committed to improving the integration of issues pertaining to mental healthcare equity throughout the curriculum of our training programs. In spring 2022, PGY1s will have the opportunity to select the MHE Residency Training Track for its inaugural academic year. We are equally committed to improving the diversity of future clinicians and researchers via programs targeted to historically under-represented and marginalized groups at UNC Chapel Hill, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and public secondary schools.
DIVE-IN pilot grant program
The DIVE-IN pilot grant program provides seed money for faculty- and staff-initiated projects that aim to foster and advance equity and inclusion in clinical, research, and administrative activities within the UNC Department of Psychiatry. The following eight projects were funded in Cycles 1-3 in 2023. Congratulations to the following recipients!
- Aimee Kresica, MSW, LCSW utilized the grant funds ($1500) to purchase the cabinet unit and non-perishable items that were available via the Community Cabinet at UNC REACH Enhanced Primary Care (formerly UNC WakeBrook). This resource served over 140 individuals through 350 Cabinet visits and distributed over 2300 food, hygiene, and household items.
- Barbara James, MSW, LCSW utilized the grant funds ($500) to purchase bedding and winter clothing for UNC WakeBrook patients without housing.
- Madeline Farber, PhD utilized grant funds ($500) to contribute towards creating a gender-affirming environment for patients admitted to a UNC inpatient psychiatry unit.
- Asiyah James, LCSW utilized grant funds ($500) to provide necessities required for survival and reintegration in society for individuals with severe mental illness returning to Wake County from incarceration (Formerly Incarcerated Transition [FIT] Wellness Program at UNC WakeBrook).
- Flavio Frohlich, PhD utilized grant funds ($600) to provide logistical reimbursement to Community Advisory Board members at The Carolina Center for Neurostimulation. With the reduction of barriers to engagement, the community members provided input that made the research more impactful.
- Crystal Schiller, PhD utilized grant funds ($1000) to support a community feedback session designed to better understand the needs of potential research participants for an ongoing clinical trial assessing underlying mechanisms of estrogen treatment in perimenopausal anhedonia and psychosis.
- Jessica Kinard, PhD utilized grant funds ($1000) to increase the accessibility of clinical recommendations to families served in the CIDD diagnostic clinics who have limited English proficiency by translating those recommendations into Spanish and by developing educational video/handouts in Spanish.
- Samantha Scott, LCSW utilized grant funds ($1000) to offer free autism training from the TEACCH Autism Program to the mentors, tutors, and staff at Speak Life and Live. This training will help equip them to serve participants with autism spectrum disorder and provide minority families and local providers with connections to autism-specific resources.
National Leadership Institute (NLI)
The Mental Health Equity Program (MHEP) of the UNC Department of Psychiatry planned and hosted the Student National Medical Association’s (SNMA) National Leadership Institute (NLI) on September 22-24 on the UNC medical school campus. NLI is a three-day conference that supports the mission of SNMA, which includes fostering the development of underrepresented medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians.
There were at least seventy-five attendees, which included pre-medical and medical students from around the country. Programming was provided by over fifty speakers and facilitators, who included UNC medical students, residents, and faculty and staff. Sessions covered an array of topics to enhance participants’ academic competitiveness, financial literacy, leaderships skills, and mental well-being. Attendees also participated in community service by learning more about how to host a bone marrow registration drive in local communities, donating back-to-school supplies to a local non-profit organization, and writing affirming words of encouragement in cards for K-12 students in Durham Public Schools.
MHEP is very appreciative of the participation and sponsorship from our partners. For a complete list of programming and sponsors, please visit our digital program booklet at http://bit.ly/NLIProgram. We especially want to thank the UNC SNMA Chapter for bringing this event to UNC.
MHEP wants to also thank the many UNC Psychiatry faculty and residents who participated in the conference.
UNC School of Medicine Selected as a 2022 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award Winner! The School of Medicine was recognized for its robust DEI infrastructure across campus, numerous efforts designed to provide education and training opportunities for the next generation of doctors, basic science researchers, health scientist, and rural initiatives that improve access to care for all North Carolinians.
As a recipient of the annual Health Professions HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. health colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — the School of Medicine will be featured, along with 64 other recipients, in the December 2022 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.