Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have been awarded a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to train young scientists to recognize, investigate and work toward correcting disparities in access to mental health care in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.
Although the global burden of mental illness is enormous, health-care professionals devoted to mental health account for a very small percentage of the global health workforce. About 45% of the world’s population live in countries with less than one psychiatrist per 100,000 people. Consequently, many people suffering from depression, substance use disorders and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia don’t get the help they need.
Led by Patricia Cavazos-Rehg, associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine, and Fred M. Ssewamala, the William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor at the university’s Brown School, the training program will recruit predoctoral and postdoctoral students from around the U.S., with a particular focus on trainees from groups that are underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral and social sciences research.
“We are seeking scientists at the stage of their careers where they are getting ready to solidify their research interests,” said Cavazos-Rehg. “We want to pique their interest in health disparities research and especially in global mental health disparities, where there are such great needs. Our hope is that they will consider focusing on those important issues as their careers progress.”