NIMH James Jackson Memorial Award Lecture: “Black Mental Health, Mentoring, and Health Equity: A Love Supreme”
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: Hello and good afternoon. My name is Crystal Barksdale. I am the Acting Deputy Director and Chief of Minority Mental Health at the National Institute of Mental Health Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity or the NIMH ODWD.
On behalf of the NIMH ODWD and the NIH Disparities Team, I want to welcome you to our inaugural NIMH James Jackson Memorial Award Lecture. This virtual lecture is the third of five webinars in the 2021 NIMH ODWD webinar series.
Our next webinar in the series will be held on Thursday, August 5th at 11:30 a.m. and is entitled, “Navigating a Neuroscience Career for Scientists of Color,” featuring Dr. Damien Fair. Information for this year’s remaining webinars including, registration, can be found at www.odwdwebinars.org . Following the live presentation, all webinars will be archived and made accessible on the NIMH website. This typically takes a little bit of time, but we invite you to use this option if you are unable to attend any part of the webinar in real time.
Now, I am pleased to introduce Dr. Joshua Gordon, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH, who will be providing a few welcome remarks.
JOSHUA GORDON: It is my distinct honor to introduce the inaugural winner of the James Jackson Memorial Award, Dr. Enrique Neblett. Dr. Neblett is an outstanding scientist, educator, and communicator, who has been a true leader in the field of racism and health.
Dr. Neblett received his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Brown University, and then following a Master’s in science in child clinical psychology from Penn State, he obtained a Ph.D. in clinical psychiatry at the University of Michigan. Following an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at Howard University, Dr. Neblett joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, in the Department of Psychology Neuroscience, rising through the ranks to full Professor in 2019.
Later that year he moved to the University of Michigan, where is a Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, the Associate Director of the Detroit Community Urban Research Center, and an associate faculty lead for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the School of Public Health.
Dr. Neblett’s pioneering research has demonstrated the profound relationship between race, racial determinations, and mental and physical health. Utilizing a carefully considered and rigorous approach, he has dissected the mechanisms underlying this relationship. Examining the roles of individual and community level factors promoting risk and resilience, and establishing the crucial nature of social determinants of health, including sociodemographic, economic factors, religious involvement, peer and parental relationships, and more.
More recently, he has used the knowledge gained from these studies to design and test interventions, programs and policies aimed at addressing the mental health consequences of racism using community-based participatory research strategies.
A gifted communicator, he has influenced the field and society at large, through a number of outstanding scientific articles, seminal book chapters, keynote lectures, and influential press appearances.
As a teacher and role model, Dr. Neblett has mentored dozens of undergraduate and graduate students and help bring a generation of talent to the field. His exceptional body of work has been recognized by a number of awards, including being named the Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar by the UNC Carolina Center for Public Service, a Faculty Award For Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, and another for Undergraduate Teaching at the UNC Chapel Hill, and the Society for Research and Child Development Black Caucus Mentor of the Year Award.
As a John Coltrane fan myself, I am super excited that Dr. Neblett will speak today on Black Mental Health, Mentoring, and Health Equity, A Love Supreme.
Dr. Neblett, thank you for joining us today. And congratulations on receiving the inaugural James Jackson Memorial Award.
JANANI PRABHAKAR: Hi everyone. My name is Janani Prabhakar and I'm a program officer at NIH. I'm here on behalf of the National Institute of Mental Health's Disparities Team and the James Jackson Memorial Award planning committee to introduce the award and our award recipient. The National Institute of Mental Health James Jackson Memorial Award was established in the Fall of 2020 upon the passing of Dr. James Jackson. Dr. Jackson was the preeminent leader in research on mental health disparities and race in America. His tremendous work dismantled barriers and lifted glass ceilings for Black psychologists and revolutionized the field's understanding of challenges and issues within the Black community and about minority, particularly, Black mental health.
Amongst many contributions, he pioneered the National Survey of Black Americans and the National Survey of American Life, that changed the way the field examined and understood Black life and mental health in the United States. He started his career in 1962 at Michigan State University. Over his illustrious career, he earned many awards, including the University of Michigan's first Distinguished Diversity Scholar Career Award, the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award for distinguished career contributions in applied psychology, and a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association.
He was also elected to the Institute of Medicine and was a W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow from the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and served on multiple advisory boards, including at the National Institutes of Health.
In addition to his illustrious research career, Dr. Jackson was also a strong advocate in the training and support of minority students and was a mentor to many, exhibiting a strong passion to support young minority researchers pursuing a scientific degree. In fact, at the 1969 convention of the American Psychological Association, he and other Black psychologists took over the podium during the presidential address to call for the improved training of racial and ethnic minority students.
The NIMH James Jackson Memorial Award was designed to honor this outstanding researcher who demonstrated exceptional individual achievement and leadership in mental health disparities research, and excellence in mentorship, influence, and support of students, particularly BIPOC students. Our inaugural recipient of NIMH James Jackson Memorial Award has carried on this tradition and embodies these values. It is my distinct honor to introduce our awardee, Dr. Enrique Neblett.
Dr. Neblett is a professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Dr. Neblett's research examines the length between racism and health in Black youth. As Dr. Gordon described earlier, his extraordinary work has characterized the daily experience and mental health challenges faced by Black youth with the main goal to understand vulnerability and resilience pathways in response to racism during adolescence and beyond. His work has been published in a wide variety of multi-disciplinary outlets, including American Psychologist, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Journal of Black Psychology, Child Development Perspectives, and more.
Not only is Dr. Neblett a leading scholar in the area of racism and health, he's also a leader within his community and a strong mentor in supporting the academic growth of trainees of color. He is the Associate Director at the Detroit Community Academic Urban Research Center, whose mission is to enhance understanding of the relationship between social and physical environmental determinants of health, and translate that knowledge into public health interventions, programs, and policies aimed at promoting health equity.
Dr. Neblett embodies the spirit of Dr. James Jackson, and we are privileged to honor him with this award and have him here today to present his award lecture, Black Mental Health, Mentoring, and Health Equity: A Love Supreme. Welcome, Dr. Neblett.
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: Thank you very much for the generous introduction, Dr. Prabhakar. I'm delighted to be here, and what an honor to receive this recognition. To be associated with someone who is known as a leader who transformed the study of Black America and someone who had the monumental mentoring impact that James had here at Michigan and across the nation and probably the world, is an honor of the highest sort and among the most meaningful in my career. I want to begin by thanking the selection committee, and I'm grateful for this opportunity to be here with you all this afternoon.
So, my talk today is organized in four parts. If you're a jazz enthusiast, you may recognize these four parts as belonging to John Coltrane's masterpiece, A Love Supreme. The title came to me somewhat divinely one night as I was thinking about what the content of my talk would be, and the four parts seemed like a good frame of reference for my talk. As I read a little bit about A Love Supreme and the personal and spiritual significance that it had for John Coltrane, the musical architecture of the composition, and how it really set the outline for his past and future work, I was sold on A Love Supreme as a frame of reference for my talk.
I want to begin by acknowledging some important folks who set this stage. Acknowledgement was the first part of A Love Supreme and the foundation of the entire composition. Perhaps you're familiar with the names Mamie Clark. You may be familiar with W. E. B. Du Bois, (inaudible), but you may not be as familiar with names like Keurah Whitehurst, who was the first licensed psychologist in the state of Virginia and someone who was doing community-based participatory research even before we called it that. You may not be as familiar with the work of Carolyn Payton, who was a trailblazer in terms of thinking about training for psychology interns and also in doing group work with African American clients. Perhaps you're not as familiar with Harriette McAdoo, who is someone who gave us Black Families, a foundational scholarship that really transformed how we thought about Black families from a strength-based approach.
You're certainly familiar with the name James Jackson, who is just a giant in the field, who has been held as an academic titan and revolutionary in the study of Black Americans and probably among the most influential researcher of Black Americans in past 100 years. If you'll humor me a bit more and indulge me, I'd like to acknowledge one other ancestor, and that is my mother, on the bottom left of your screen, Monica Neblett. She joined the realm of the ancestors just a few days before James, and when I first learned the news of James's passing, I envisioned the two of them having a conversation and smiling down. So, I want to start with some acknowledgements here. These are intellectual ancestors who have been an important part of the field of Black and minority mental health.
I also want to acknowledge some folks who are living with us who have influenced my work. There's Professor Karen White, who taught me psychology of African American women. Dr. Fayneese Miller, who was my instructor for the psychology of race, class, and gender. That class blew my mind and opened up a world of scholarship that I never knew existed. There were people with me at the start of my journey - Tiffany Townsend and Laura Kohn Wood, and I also want to acknowledge scholars whose work has been foundational of my scholarship. People like Dr. Cynthia Garcia Coll and Dr. David Williams.
There have been so many mentors and sponsors along the way who have taken interest in my work and who have been my biggest fans and cheerleaders - people like Velma Murray, Woody Neighbors, Jules Harrell, Barbara Israel, Helen Neville, etcetera - and I certainly want to acknowledge my chair, Cleo Caldwell - that when she saw the announcement for the award, said, your name is all over this one, and wrote a letter of nomination on my behalf.
There's my guru mentor, Dr. Robert Sellers, who's a lifelong mentor and friend. Rob's selflessness and generosity, for as long as I've known him, has been a cornerstone of my own mentoring approach and I'm grateful for him.
Last, but certainly not least, my life partner, Dr. Nicole, as my students affectionately refer to her - I would not be before you today without her presence in my life. So, thank you, Nicole. These are some of the people that have kept me going. There are many others, far too many friends and family who sustain me, as well and that I'm unable to name, but I share this award with all of them.
All right, so - Resolution. I think it was around the Fall of 1998 that I decided I wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. I wanted to understand individual differences that I was seeing as a counselor. I was working in New York City with Black and Latinx youth, and really struck by individual differences and how youth responded to the adversity that they faced. So, off I went to Penn State for graduate school.
Around the time I began graduate school, there was the first Surgeon General's Report on mental health by David Satcher, who had, sort of, commissioned that, and two years later, a supplement to the initial report. And that supplement said a couple things. It said, first, Americans do not share equally in the hope for recovery from mental illness - that there's some racial disparities, here. The report said that the science based on racial and ethnic, and minority mental health was inadequate, and it called for the elimination of disparities in the availability, accessibility, utilization, and quality of mental health services. There are lots of things this report did, but it was among the first to highlight the importance of studying the world of cultural factors in mental health.
Here are a couple statistics. I wanted to see how we've done since that report in 2001. If you look at the top-center panel, self-reported mental health, you see a disparity in terms of non-Hispanic Blacks reporting poorer mental health in the past 30 days. If you look below that, you see a rise in serious mental illness among African American young adults. So, if you pay attention to the red line, in the last five years or so, you see an increase in serious mental illness in young adults. And this graphic also shows that the majority of people who have these illnesses are not receiving treatment.
The panel on the far-right is not specific to mental health but speaks to less satisfaction from racial and ethnic minorities in the healthcare they receive. And then, the final graphic highlights the role of insurance as an issue and points out that there are not very many Black clinicians and practitioners, at least, certainly relative to whites who hold these roles.
Mental health has been in the headlines quite a bit recently. Here's a sample of headlines, some of them quite depressing, in the past year, specific to Black mental health. A lot has centered around COVID-19, surviving the coronavirus while Black. Many have centered around unjust police killings, how they've damaged the mental health of Black Americans. Bridging the mental health gap and access gap even 20 years after that report is still something we're talking about, and a number of just really depressing headlines. "Mental Health Tsunami", "Era of Peril for Black Mental Health" - if you've been paying attention in the last couple of weeks, there's been highlighted attention of Naomi Osaka, Nicole Hannah-Jones in terms of thinking about the toll of the institutional factors on the psyche of Black America, Black faculty.
You may not be aware of the floods that took place in Detroit and have continued over the years - think about what the mental health impact of flooding in the basements and the built environment as an institutional level impact of important of racism that's been going on for a long time.
We've seen attention to youth suicide in Ring the Alarm, the report. Perhaps the silver lining here is that there's been some movement in Congress with the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act, and the Senate is now, I think, taking that up to try and get a version of that passed. But the headlines continue to be discouraging. More than half of Detroit's students felt anxious or depressed before COVID, and we know that things are certainly going to be challenging as COVID continues to ensue with the variants and so on. The stories go on and on. Black Americans dying of COVID-19 at the rates of white folks. There's been attention in recent weeks to the link between substance use disorder, disparities around cannabis use disorder, and its impact as a risk-factor for suicide, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
You have to look very hard to look for titles that have a resilient aspect to mental health, and I'm glad to see that there's been a lot of conversation around breaking the stigma. Conversations in Black communities around techniques to improve mental health and promote mental health. The Grassroots Community Foundation each year has had a Green Ribbon Week to focus on promoting mental health. And we've seen a lot of conversation around barber shops as an important venue for promoting mental health in the community.
There's also been scholarship, and I want to highlight a couple of recent books that highlight the importance of mental health work, mental health disparities, mental health among Black Americans. Yet, and still, books and all these things we have, we still continue to see under disparities in terms of access, quality of care, and so on and so forth. So, we know we have work to do.
You've heard that the work that we've done over the short time my career of the last 15 years has focused on the link between racism and health. I have been particularly interested in racial and cultural factors that mitigate the impact of racism on health, racial identity, the personal significance and meaning of race that Black youth ascribe to their identity, racial socialization - how do parents talk to their kids about race, African-centered values - how do these things play a role in mitigating the impact of racism-related stress?
So, combining biology, developmental and family science and now public health, the body of work has done a couple of things. One, it's documented the experiences that youth have around racism-related stress. We've begun to move beyond just documenting an association between racism and poor mental health to really unpack some of the mechanisms and processes that play a role in mitigating racism-related stress. And I'd like to think that a significant contribution has been testing a biopsycosocial model. So, using biological studies to understand what happens when racism enters the body and gets under the skin, and what are some potential targets of intervention.
Here are a couple of research highlights we've been playing together over the last 15 years. A couple of buckets here, but I just want to highlight your attention to three specific studies I've been really excited about. We've been doing a lot of work looking at internalized racism. We know that the impact of racism on folks is not just individual experiences. Internalized racism is an unfortunate biproduct of cultural racism, the negative symbols that are communicated through media. So, we've recently published some longitudinal work looking at how that plays out over time.
I've done some work with my colleagues looking at how gender and socioeconomic status intersect together. One of the interesting findings in 2016 was that the link between racism, racial discrimination, and psychological distress was actually strongest for women from higher SES backgrounds. So, we've been trying to think about some of the unique ways that class and gender interact.
The last one I'll mention is a recent paper that was just in print last week, a measurement paper on the daily life experiences scale, a well-known measure by Shelly Harrell, where one of my former students, Dr. Daniel Lee, lead us in producing a psychometric paper on this scale, which I anticipate will be a valuable contribution. So, these have been some of our contributions over the last several years and things that I've been very interested and committed to pursuing.
So, let's talk a little bit about Pursuance. What's the plan of action? What are the things I've been excited about lately? Here's David Williams' Framework for the Study of Racism and Health. If you've been in my lab or are one of my students, you've read this paper many times. It's been an organizing, guiding force in our work, and over the years we've looked at racism. We're now paying more attention to other levels of racism and how they influence mental health. The things circled in blue are things that I've already mentioned.
In 2017, I published a paper with another one of my former students, Dr. Shawn Jones, in which we recommended a number of ways to move forward in the study of racism-related stress and racial and ethnic protective factors. There are nine or ten recommendations. Check out the paper. But a couple that have anchored my pursuits and the pursuits of our collaborators have been trying to elucidate the mechanisms by which racism-related stress influences health. Getting beyond individual experiences of racial discrimination, moving beyond one-shot studies to do more longitudinal work, and then continuing to integrate biopsychosocial perspectives in the study of race and protective factors.
So, using this as a guiding framework, a couple years ago at UNC, we started what was supposed to be a pilot study and ended up going a lot longer than that, where we were looking at trajectories of mental health during the transition to adulthood. So, these were UNC first-year students, about 200, that we followed. So, this is a cohort-sequential design, so we had a couple cohorts. It was originally planned to be a three or four-semester study - because of the cohort-sequential design, we now have data that allows us to look at seven of the eight semesters of undergrad. So, I'm just beginning to analyze that data.
I want to share with you one interesting finding that came out, and it was that when we looked at racial identity, which is traditionally been thought of a protective factor, we noted in the youth at UNC that it actually increased levels of anxiety over time. So, the young adults who said being Black is really important to my identity were experiencing higher levels and increases in their anxiety. We thought, maybe, there was a coding error, or we did something wrong, and so we looked at this in terms of OC symptom distress and obsessive-compulsive symptoms, we used a profile analysis approach where we looked at different aspects of identity, and the profiles that had the most focus on race being central to their identity showed the same kind of increase in obsessive-compulsive symptom distress.
We were quite puzzled by this finding, and so we tried to unpack it a little bit. Interestingly, what we found is that the more central race was to your identity over time, that actually led to increased vigilance. So, we used David Williams' Heightened Vigilance Scale and it led to people feeling that they have to be careful about their appearance, anticipating that racism might occur, trying to avoid certain situations. So, we wondered if part of the reason that folks might be experiencing this heightened anxiety is through increased levels of vigilance. Back in 2013, we did a psychophysiology study where we found that when we had people imagine racism vignettes, it was actually the people who had more race-centrality, who had a strong sense of racial identity, who showed a flight-or-fight or increased cardiovascular response. And so, we wondered if there was a connection between these findings.
We've been in partnership with a collaboration with my mentor, Dr. Jules Harrell, at Howard University, where we're trying to understand how to unpack some of these findings around ethnic and racial identity. And so, the objectives of the study are to figure out, how is identity operating in these contexts? We think it might depend that, maybe, identity is favorable in an HBCU, or Black context, but maybe if I'm in a context where there's a KKK rally on campus or buildings are being named or there are confederate statues, that that might convey some additional anxiety. So, we're trying to unpack that a little bit.
Here's the conceptual model for our study. So, looking at Aim 1, how does identity play a role? Does it buffer or exacerbate a number of different outcomes? We're also interested in the role that racial identity plays in developing or changing identity. One of my former students, Dr. Henry Willis, published a nice paper a few years ago showing the different ways that identity dimensions change during college. So, we're trying to unpack the role that discrimination experiences play in that. That's something I've been interested in for a long time, is how does racial identity actually lead to outcomes? There's a book a long time ago, The Way Things Work, I think by David Macaulay, which was one of my favorite books as a child - it was an award I won. I've always been interested in kind of a basic science approach. Before we can do the intervention work, we've got to understand how things work. So, this study is really about unpacking that a little bit.
The advances in innovation of the work are the emerging adult focus, the longitudinal design - we are having folks look at stress paradigms and how there's cardiovascular psychophysiology changes over time. This is a three-year study. So, we're using mixed methods that involve psychophysiology research. We're looking at the role of context, and we're hoping that by the end of this study, this will help give us some potential targets for intervention. So, that's our one big bucket where our work has centered currently.
The second bucket is what you've heard mentioned, and that's community-based participatory research. So, in 2015, I attended a workshop here at Michigan. It's a week-long training, and it transformed the way that I think about my research. Many of you in the audience are probably familiar with community-based participatory research, or CBPR. There are several great things about CBPR. You see them here. Equitable relationships with community members, community organizations, and academic researchers. So, you don't just roll up and conduct research on what you want to conduct, but it's a partnership. All partners contribute. There's a common understanding. We learn, co-learning, from our community partners as they learn from us, and the idea is that there's a balance between knowledge and intervention. One of our community partners, Angie Reyes, with Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, recently said we don't have time for studies that just look at basic research. We need interventions now.
So, I want to summarize some work that we did. This was work in collaboration with my community partner in southeast Raleigh, some work we did with our community partner there, Melvin Jackson, and also some students at the UNC School of Public Health. At the time, Melvin said, look, our community is really interested in racial equity and mental health. So, we built a partnership to begin to look at, what are the issues of the community? What are the needs? So on and so forth. So, this work was in the early formative stages, which if you've done CBPR, you know is very important.
The work I'm going to describe are Photovoice projects. So, using cameras as a way of discussion and improving the community. This work took place around the time of Michael Brown in Ferguson and when Black Lives Matter was prominent in national discussions, and we used Photovoice to advance the work. So, you see here, some of the goals of Photovoice, enabling the community to record and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. We used Photovoice to promote a dialogue and knowledge on important issues in the community. One of the things about Photovoice is you don't just take pictures and talk about them, but you use it as a form of empowerment action and enhancement in the community.
So, we did a youth Photovoice project with 8th graders in southeast Raleigh. If you focus, here, on some of the sessions, there were five sessions, the questions for sessions two, three, and four - those are questions that the youth came up with themselves. “How does racism live? Why are people racist? What brings races together?” So on and so forth. I don't have time to present all of the findings from the youth Photovoice project, but I want to highlight a couple of themes that the youth talked about in their work.
One theme was racialized spaces. The youth said, gosh, everywhere we look and turn, community spaces are segregated by race, and they reinforce the fragmentation within the community. So, people talked about school busses. They said, you know, Rosa Parks is no longer with us, but the Black folks are still sitting in the back of the bus. They talked about Sunday mornings as being a place and time where we all go to our respective corners, and they talked about their classrooms, certainly, as being settings where the white girls didn't interact with the Black girls.
They also talked about racial stereotypes and how it impacted them on a day-to-day basis. So, a couple of quotes here from the youth that talked about the impact of racial stereotypes: one youth said, “people think just because I'm black I'm going to act bad and I'm just going to decide, okay, I'm in this class, and okay, I'm going to act bad and I'm not going to do my work, and I'm not going to try because that's what people expect of me.” Some of the other youth talked about how sometimes they feel resigned, and they have to accept the stereotypes, and sometimes the youth also talked about overcoming the stereotypes. “Sometimes you don't have to care, you don't have to put energy into it, but you've just got to press on.”
So, race was clearly an organizing construct. Participants linked some of the stereotypes they experienced to feeling bad about themselves. They named depression and anxiety and what they called serious mental health states as problematic, and they talked about stereotypes being linked with feelings of denial. So, some of the youth - it was really concerning - had negative views, some of the Black boys viewed Black girls in very negative ways, harkening back to some of the internalized racism that I talked about. Some of the young Black men and 8th graders endorsed negative stereotypes about the Black girls in the study.
We also did an adult Photovoice project. So, we looked at the caregivers. This was a much smaller project with a very similar approach. This was six African American women in southeast Raleigh, and you can see some of the questions that the caregivers were interested in, here. How does stigma associated with mental health relate to racism? How does a lack of education affect the Black family? And the most interesting question: how does the Black mama's faith inform or influence mental health?
Here's one of the images: a shopping cart. If you want to know what they talked about, here are some excerpts. They talked about this image as representing a feeling of being exposed or bound. The caregivers talked about how the picture invoked for them hypervigilance, feeling on guard, and feeling watchful. There's an interesting quote here. A grandmother said, “I relate this to mental health. Like, there are pieces I want to control but there's so many things I can't. Well, then I just control what I can, especially in the African American community. Sometimes, you have stigma, so you can't control other people's perceptions. The easiest thing I see is to hold on to and control is whether the cart moves, because I had this chain, because it's almost impossible for me to control anything else.”
One of the pictures focused around Human Services. So, this was Wake County Human Services, and the caregivers talked about the lack of education and awareness that they experienced. So, they said, you know, “I don't really know how symptoms of psychopathology present themselves. I may know that my child is acting funny, but I don't know why, and if I don't know someone who's a social worker, then it's going to be hard for me to identify this as a problem. Meanwhile, this is being untreated, and it may get worse before it gets better.” One mom said, “I'm just saying, regular people like me don't know anything about it.” Because we had a social worker who was one of the moms who knew a lot about mental health, and this other mom said, look, regular people like me don't know a lot about it. Another mom asked, “are they getting this information out to the Black community?”
There was the Black mama's faith theme in which the mothers talked about faith as a barrier to a source of resilience. “I'm not going to send my kids to a therapist,” is what a friend of a friend said. That friend told one of the participants in the group, “I'm just going to pray.” That's what's going to influence your children's mental health. Are they going to learn to suppress stuff or are they going to talk about? If you're only supposed to pray when you have mental health issues, that can affect children who may not necessarily know the power of prayer or understand it. So, they learn to suppress stuff as opposed to going out and seeking medical help. So, this tension here, between faith as a barrier but also a source of resilience.
Following the Photovoice work, we did what's an important part of partnership formation and also building relationships in the community. We had youth engagement sessions and parent engagement sessions where we listen to what some of the needs were in the community. And so, I want to show you some of the things that the parents talked about. They said, “how did the pandemic and racism experiences impact our children?” I added in some work - not just from Raleigh, but also Detroit parents had asked about, “how can we talk to our children about their racism experiences when we're at the table, when we're walking with them? How do we initiate these conversations? How do we advocate for our children?” Some of the families in Michigan have specifically said, “how can we continue the push to destigmatize mental health, and how do we increase access to mental health treatment and services in the community?" So, these are some of the things parents wanted to know about.
The youth had a different set of questions, although related. “How do we cope with discrimination when it occurs?” One question that's always troubled me every time I think about it, “how do we confront racism respectfully?” So, these youth had a sense that doing the wrong thing could have life-changing implications. “How do we do this respectfully? How can we get our parents to understand the significance of mental health and mental health advocacy?” There's a generational divide. The youth talked about the fact that we want to advocate for mental health, but sometimes our parents just don't see the significance. Youth here in Michigan also said, we need the adults to listen and help us make supportive connections. We can't just keep talking about this. We need adults to act.
I'm going to move us along here, so we have some time. We did some work, also, talking about their racism experiences. Youth are very attuned to the tone, the voice, the body language of their teachers. It's not about name-calling anymore, but our teachers, they talk slower, they lean in, they talk to us like we're stupid, and this makes us feel some kind of way. Here are some of the mental health impacts of racism that came out of these conversations. They said, “we're tired. Being woke is being tired. We feel angry. We feel underappreciated. We feel confused, hurt, dehumanized,” so on and so forth.
The Photovoice work and the engagement sessions led to youth hosting community forum on mental health and gentrification, and they really identified some things they wanted to do. So, an awareness campaign, they proposed a youth lock-in over a weekend that would really focus on the in-depth study of what we can do about racism, how we can re-envision our communities. They said, it's really important not to just talk about the issues, but how can we incorporate theater, dance, art, so that it's culturally familiar? Something we've been thinking about is how to navigate the work with caregivers who span multiple generations with the work that we're also doing with the youth.
Some of the advances and innovations of this work have been partnering with communities to identify the needs centering the voices of youth and community. Something that I'm particularly excited about is youth ownership of their communities. This work will contribute to them contributing and building up the communities where they will live and be a part of. The approach is again mixed methods, multi-generational - another thing I love about this work is it involves learning at all stages. You have both kids themselves who are training to become citizen scientists, but also the students at UNC who are part of the work and who are training to be public health professionals.
Next steps and a vision are really, how do we get to the national stage in some of the work that we've been doing? Can we follow up on some of the youth - a lot of college studies - we're thinking about ways that we can expand, and the work, the NSF we're doing, we're trying to expand to include young adults who are not in college as part of the work. The second bullet here, some work that James and I were really excited about: structural racism, stress physiology, and health equity. About a year prior to his passing, we actually submitted a couple of proposals looking at brain mechanisms and how they play a role in the links between racism and a number of health outcomes.
One idea that came to me as I prepared this talk is something that I'm calling a D.R.E.A.M partnership. So, as we begin to build this work in Detroit, I've envisioned the Detroit-Area Racial Equity and Mental Health Project, which will be a community-based partnership attending to what the needs are of the Detroit residents and really building up a partnership that's going to enhance the capacity of the community and build it up in accordance with the partnership.
All right. That was a mouthful, in terms of Pursuance. I want to conclude my talk by talking about some of my mentees. Some of the most sacred and spiritual moments of my professional journey have been with my mentees, and I want to dedicate this last section of my talk to them as I also share today's recognition. The students that you see here on your screen are current graduate students. They're biostatisticians, they are faculty, they are incoming graduate students, they are mental health service providers, they are founders of their own clinical practice. But they're also entrepreneurs. They're also mothers, fathers, friends, and colleagues, or 'frolleagues', as we like to say.
One of the greatest joys of my career has been working with and mentoring the amazing people that you see on the screen here and cultivating something called mentor leadership. It's a book by Tony Dungy in 2010 in which he talked about people first. He said our value is not measured by what we produce and accumulate but how we pour into and make a difference in the lives of others. Tony Dungy, Coach Dungy, also talked about striving for significance. We all have milestones, I’m working towards tenure, promotion - the students are working towards their milestones, but what matters most is what happens in the quiet and private moments. So, moments of faith, family, building relationships happen over pizza, over beer, while discussing Michigan football, or crying it out strategies for raising our kids. This has been one-on-one personal relationships in which I walk alongside my trainees. An essential component has been lifting and encouraging them through praise and encouragement, and this advances the field of mental health disparities because by allowing these trainees to believe in themselves, they know that they have something to contribute even when others suggest otherwise.
Part of striving for significance is traversing life together. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one does well, we all do well. One of my students, Dr. Athela Sosu(phonetic) just published a paper on her battle with thyroid cancer as a graduate student. When my mom passed away, these are the people who were front and center at the memorial service. So, we've done life together. We've learned from each other through a spirit of warmth, humility, respect, and collaboration, caring, and genuine concern. The likelihood that the trainees you see here will cross the finish line is much higher.
I want to conclude my talk with a look at the next generation of leaders, mental health providers, professors, psychologists, and public health professionals who will work and advance the field of minority mental health. Where do we want them to be? We want them to be at universities, in private practice, in courtrooms, in hospitals, federal funding agencies, on TV and the media, in health departments, in local, state, and federal government. We want them to be at foundations. We want them to be in communities. What do we want the spaces that they inhabit to look like? I want them to be in spaces where they are not one of the only and I want them to be a network of scholars and practitioners in partnership with communities and building capacity to sustain communities to promote health equity.
What do I hope things will be like in the future if we do the things we're called to? These will be leaders and researchers whose expertise is valued and funded by the NIH and other funding agencies. Some of the people you see on the screen are already on their way. I want an America where we share equally in the hope of recovery from mental illness. I want an overflowing science base on Black, racial, and ethnic minority mental health - that these leaders will contribute to. And we want equity, availability, accessibility, utilization, and equality of mental health services. Finally, we want a world without racism.
I have a final message to my mentees past and present who I know are in attendance today. May you be steadfast in your commitment to promote mental health, to eradicating the root causes of mental health disparities and promoting health equity, whatever that may mean and whatever that may look like for you. I want you to pay it forward and may your reach and influence in the lives of others and in the communities that you serve be positive, long-lasting, far, and wide. Thank you very much.
COLLENE LAWHORN: Thank you so much, Dr. Neblett, for that incredibly enriching, rewarding, fantastic talk. On behalf of everyone at NIMH and, I'm sure, all of the viewers that have joined us today, I stand and cheer. I applaud. I'm very excited about everything that you shared. My name is Collene Lawhorn, and I am a program officer here at the National Institute of Mental Health in the Division of AIDS research focused on communication, dissemination, and engagement research, and also our National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium. I'm also a member of the NIMH Disparities Team and the James Jackson Memorial Award Planning Committee.
So, again, welcome, and thank you for an excellent presentation. Now, I have the privilege of having our audience get to know you a little bit more. So, this is supposed to be fun and relaxed and just a conversation between us and the rest of the world. Again, framing your talk in this John Coltrane masterpiece, we get some time to learn about the masterpiece that is you and all about your excellence.
So, I want to talk a little bit about this mentoring piece first. Thank you so much for sharing about all of these intellectual pioneers, as you've called them. The giants in the field, both in terms of our ancestors and those that walk amongst us today, and my condolences on the loss of your mother and thank you for celebrating what it means to be connected to family and the importance of leadership in that space, as well. But I want to understand from you a little bit more about what makes a good mentor, and sometimes we at NIMH talk about, well how do we incentivize people to be mentors? What are your thoughts around the benefits of mentoring, when someone says, well, what's in it for me? What would you say to that?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: What is in it for me is making a contribution. What's in it for me is a sense of purpose, building into other people, building other people up. I told my students when I was an assistant professor that I wanted to get tenure, but at the end of the day it's not about whether I get tenure or not. It's about us growing together and really, again, just pouring into the lives of others. When I leave this world, I cannot take my publications with me, but the impact that one can have is through their students, through the ways that their students will go out and contribute to others.
So, I think that looks different for different people. Some of my examples come from my mentor, Dr. Robert Sellers, who was just generous with his time, who always gave me a call me anytime, who spent time with us, who went over ever little element of our talks. So, the life lessons, what's in it for me, is pouring into others, and my personal experience was that I had a lot of self-doubts and things that I was unsure about. There were people, mentors, who helped to build me up and who gave me the confidence to do the things that I'm now able to do. And so, I think that's a tremendous potential impact that mentors can have.
COLLENE LAWHORN: You also talked a little bit about the private moments with mentees, whether that's over pizza, beer, or family, and ways that you praise and encourage them. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the strategies that you use to engage your trainees and if there are any resources you would suggest to people who are new to the mentorship and who want to be able to work on those skills?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: My suggestion is to find a Rob Sellers. Find excellent mentors. Find people who do mentoring well and look at what they're doing. When we write grants, I tell my students, find someone who does it well and look at what they do, and then repeat some of that, then find your own style to it. One of the things, when I was a graduate student, there was very much a family approach. We had a lab experience. We celebrated each other's accomplishments and milestones. We celebrated birthdays. I do some of those things now with my students. We celebrate birthdays. We buy treats. We have graduate student appreciation week, where we really celebrate the accomplishments of students. I've fallen away a little bit, but every opportunity there is to build up students and their accomplishments and to build a family and community that supports one another, that's what's important. That conveys the message that we're all in this together and we have folks that look out for one another.
One of the things that's touched me immeasurably is that it's not just about getting the Ph.D. or the master's degree, but my students are family. They're friends. They look out for one another. So, the strategies that I suggest are build people up, find opportunities to celebrate accomplishments in addition to the things we do, that sort of instrumental bringing them in on papers. Academia's a very competitive environment, but I had my students work on papers together. Another thing I picked up from my mentor, Rob Sellers. They come in at different levels. Eventually, they're leading the papers, but from the day you come through the door, you're a second or third author, or maybe you're just doing the method section. But allowing them to a be a part of the conversation is a part of the mentoring approach that I use.
COLLENE LAWHORN: I am glad you mentioned academia. Throughout your talk, you were able to frame your work in terms of advances, innovations, and contributions, and to be able to do that, I'm sure you would agree you'd need to be in an environment that is supportive and thoughtful. Can you talk to us a little bit more about how can we do better, how our academic institutions can do better, especially as it relates to recruitment and retention of BIPOC trainees and scientists?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: That is a tough question. I am in a space now where I'm doing some administrative work in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. It seems easy, on the outside, to just do A, B, and C, but once you're on the inside, you realize that there are many barriers and that the structures that are in place to actually support and do some of the things that people are talking about, are barriers that prevent things from happening.
So, that slide that I showed you in terms of my students that I've mentored - we need to bring more of those folks in so that I'm not one of the only - we need more allies. We need action. One of the greatest frustrations in the last year is that we talk a good game, but actually making the progress is slow, and that's a part of the work. But I think there's a middle ground where we have to be able to build. We have to move and shake things up. I'm finally at a place in my career where I can do a little bit more of that. So, stay tuned.
And I think we've got to push some of the policies that are in place that keep folks from advancing, that don't value community-based participatory research. The academy has to change a little bit. Particularly if we want racial and ethnic minority faculty to stay in it. These folks are not I was. They want to do things faster and quicker. They don't want to wait until they become a full professor. So, we need to value the work and enable strategies that show commitment to these types of approaches that have typically been thought of as something to do later in your career.
COLLENE LAWHORN: Speaking about commitment - Resolution and your commitment to doing research on black mental health and mental health disparities, talk to us a little bit about what some of the important aspects or sources of support, what those have been that helped you maintain your resolve to do this work.
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: The sources of support, there are many of them. They're family and friends, some that are on this call. But it's the tribe, it's the people around me. I have a group of close friends affectionately known as the academic peeps. We get on the phone, we get on to the web, now from time to time and we support one another. We have a Facebook Messenger chat. That's probably very early-2000's, but that's what we do. And we support each other when our colleagues are giving us a hard time or challenging my work or saying that racism doesn't exist. Things like that. We support one another. So, I would identify the support from my partner, from my family and friends, as critical to the work that we do.
Another thing that's been really encouraging in this new phase of work that I'm doing are my community partners and the folks that we're building relationships with, in the community. These people are on the front lines. They have a passion for this work. They know things that I could never know and have expertise in. So, they are a tremendous support as well. My mentors and sponsors, some of the people I showed you on that second slide, are people who every time there's an opportunity, are looking for ways that I can get involved and for me to expand my reach and impact. And they don't have to do that, but they do. So, those are the things that sustain me when I have encountered some of the challenges in this academic life.
COLLENE LAWHORN: Thank you for sharing that. I think we have some questions from our audience in the Q&A, so I'm going to turn things over to Dr. Barksdale and Dr. Pranhakar to share some of those.
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: We do have several questions. The first is, Dr. Neblett, is stigma primarily an issue caused by lack of knowledge among Blacks about mental health conditions?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: No, is the quick answer to that. I've seen some very unfortunate write-ups that kind of blame the victim and say that, oh, folks don't know. Hopefully, my talk didn't come across as conveying that same message. And the fact of the matter is that there's a historical legacy of reasons that stigma may exist. The issues about trust and mistrust and distrust. There's even been intellectual discussions of how during the times of slavery, the slaves were thought to not be sophisticated enough to suffer from mental illness, and things of that nature, and that they couldn't possibly experience it. They weren't developed enough.
So, there's some negative ideology that has contributed to why people do or do not talk about it. What's striking to me - I didn't show you - there was a graphic survey of African Americans that show that 80% still identified stigma as a major issue in the Black community around mental health. So, we've made progress, but we still have a really, really long way to go. But no, it is not just a lack of knowledge. There are structural factors that play a role. Internalized racism, cultural racism, etcetera.
JANANI PRABHAKAR: I will read the next question. I'm going to start off with some comments from this individual. It says, thank you very much for your work and mentorship. Your work has been very pivotal to my career. I can't imagine a better recipient of this award. You mentioned that before we can formulate interventions for racism-related stress, we need to better understand the mechanisms. While true, how would you recommend individuals supporting youth currently in clinical settings approach interventions for racism-related stress?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and I appreciate that question. In terms of developing interventions, I have often thought, oh, well I don't have a study showing this, I haven't piloted an intervention. Again, I mention the comments of my friend and community partner Angie Reyes, who said, we don't have time for more research. The people need intervention now. So, I started to think about this, I thought, look, we've been doing research and there are many other people - it's not just our work - looking at how racial protective factors work. We proposed a conceptual model about how we think it works. I'm doing an intervention now with faculty at UNC. We didn't have a number of studies showing how to do peer mentoring approaches with the faculty that we're working with, but we have research, and we have literature that are very clear about how these mechanisms work.
So, that work is important, but I think we can begin to build in the same way we designed this intervention, this peer group mentoring intervention, for faculty of color at UNC. We can do the same thing with youth work. Part of the dream partnership that I'm hoping to get going here will be community-led, but I'm hoping that our community partners will help us to, sort of - here's the knowledge we already have. Maybe we haven't already designed the intervention. Here's what the research says. Here's your expertise and what you've seen. How can we put it together?
So, the short answer - or long answer - is, look at what we already know. We don't need to do more studies all the time. Science privileges that. Evidence approach is important, but there's already a lot we know, and sometimes we get in a lot of doing these studies ad nauseum, and we know a bit already while we still need to figure out other things as well.
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: Another question, this one about mentor and mentee relationships. How do we cultivate better mentor-mentee relationships if it doesn't already exist, and how do we ask more of our mentors who are busy?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: If your mentors are busy, you have to identify other people. We're pulled in many different directions. When I was a graduate student, I called Rob, my guru mentor, and he really was. That was my guy. Some of the wisdom I've seen since then has said you shouldn't have a guru mentor. It worked really well for me in graduate school. But you've got to identify other people who do have more time as a possible way to build mentorships. So, I think that's one thing.
In terms of how to improve relationships, sit down and have a conversation. What's gone well? What's not? When I was leaving UNC, we were talking about some formal instruments that could be used to assess what the mentee finds effective and what they don't. My students know that at the end of every semester we talk about what are growth areas, what are things that I can do better, what could they be doing better? And we have some difficult conversations sometimes. That's part of what has to happen, but that type of conversation can't happen if there isn't a foundational relationship where I value you. I'm walking alongside you, so on and so forth.
So, my recommendation to start would be to try and have a conversation with a mentor. What's going well, what's not? And if that's not working with your guru mentor, then find other people who can support you and who you can have those conversations with, and build a mentoring network as opposed to one sole mentor.
JANANI PRABHAKAR: Next question: how can we create more collaborations, including mentorship, between different mental health professionals in this area, psychologists, counselors, social workers included?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: We have to create more spaces and opportunities where those folks come together. I remember there was a special occasion a few years ago here at Michigan, and David Williams was here. He pointed out that our conferences are still kind of siloed. You know, the psychologists are over here, the public health people are over here. That doesn't create very much opportunity for diversity of thought and for cross-pollination of ideas. So, I think we have to create meeting spaces that are interdisciplinary. At a very basic level, who are the people in the room when you're talking about your research project? Is it just psychologists? Read outside of your field. Try to figure out, who are some of the names?
It has become extremely clear to me in doing work on racism that psychologists only have a small portion. They have strengths that are relevant to the conversation, but racism is structural. It's cultural. It's institutional. It's all of them, actually, so I can't just do work with psychologists. At the same time, if I don't understand the mechanisms and processes, and I'm only in the public health space, that's not going to happen.
So, my short answer to the question is create meetings, opportunities, and spaces that privilege people coming together from different networks, different disciplines, so on and so forth.
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: We have a lot of wonderful questions, so to our participants, we see them and we're trying to get through them but note we may not be able to get to all of the questions. So, Dr. Neblett, we may beg of you to try to get a way to be able to respond to some of these questions offline, because again, just fantastic questions that are coming in. Can you please speak to what might be the need to mentor BIPOC women differently than men?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: Yes. As I alluded to in some of the research I shared with you on the research highlight slide, the experiences and intersectionality of different identities and different systems of oppression - and that's not just women, but LGBTQ+-identified students, so on and so forth - because of the intersection of these different experiences, one size doesn't fit all. One model doesn't fit all, and there are blind spots that we may have. I have mentored men and women and I've had to be attuned to, what are the things that work well? What doesn't? Doing some of my own behind-the-scenes reading in terms of the types of issues and having conversations with my students to ensure that I'm not reinforcing some of the things.
As an example, as a male mentor, there are blind spots that I may have that I may not be aware of living in a sexist society. I bring some of that into maybe who I give certain roles. So, I have to constantly challenge myself on that. I have to take a hard look at what I'm doing. I have to invite my students to do the same so that when I do make those errors, which I will, that they're called to my attention. So, that's a sort of generic answer that I would give to that question.
JANANI PRABHAKAR: have a great question that is preceded by a metaphor, so here that is. At the end of your talk, you mentioned that we should look to weed out the root causes of disparities and address them. However, some of these root causes may be outside of what I can directly affect as a psychologist. I'll take the root metaphor further. I may not be able to reach the roots of poison ivy, or racism, that covers a path as a clinical psychologist. I might only be able to cut back at the tops, provide people with boots and gloves, or provide a balm for what ails them in the moment. This can be unsatisfying because the roots persist, and the growth returns again and again, and this can lead to frustration and burnout.
So, the question: are there ways that we can engage in this work that are personally sustainable and satisfying? And a follow up: how can we handle the limitations of our expertise and roles when the problems can be so broad, deep, and multi-level?
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: Fantastic question. What an amazing metaphor. I'll use myself as an example. I am trained as a psychologist. I'm now in the public health space, and it's been a welcome transition. There are some challenges in the public health space, as well, that I'm getting used to as a lifelong psychologist. But you've got to move into spaces I'm lucky my spiritual path and journey has pushed me into the space that doesn't just act at the individual level. If you surround yourself with only people that operate at the individual level, then it's not really surprising what you're going to know and what you're going to do.
Let me be clear that that work has value and is important. So, I think we still need to be equipping people with skills to navigate racism, but what's become clear to me, also, is that if that's all we're doing, and all of our eggs are in that basket - I showed you what the concerns were in the report 20 years ago. The data doesn't look that much different now in terms of we're talking about the same issues. I think it's because we're not getting at some of the root issues, and until we do that in a sustained and coordinated fashion - I hope one of my students isn't giving a talk for this award in 20 years and showing the same statistics and data that I did and that we've been talking about since the '90s and even before that.
So, I'm at a stage in my career - community-based participatory research - it is frustrating. Part of the reason I got excited about CBPR is because - publishing is important, science is important, but I want to have influence in the lives of others in the community. It's not just about the journal articles. So, I've got to put myself in spaces where I'm going to be talking with people who are living this experience every day, collaborate with them, and maybe not even have a specific research agenda, but just listening to what they have to say. And I think that work can be very rewarding. Again, as a central recurring theme here, not just in mentoring, but when you are able to pour into and make a difference in the lives of others, I think that will offset some of the challenges we face in the issues you mentioned. Thank you for the question.
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: This is our last question from the audience and I'm going to try to weave in a few of them. Given the connection of the African American Community and churches, how do you think the church communities can play a role in connecting folks to mental health services? I would broaden that a bit and also add, how do you think other kinds of community entities, and even disciplines, play a role? So, again, in your work with community-based participatory research, you mentioned other types of disciplines. Your talk is based on John Coltrane and this role of music. So, I'm curious about this connection, not just with community and churches but also other disciplines and how you foresee some of these other community links and other disciplines in playing a role in connecting Black people and people of color to mental health services.
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: So, another great question. I will refer the person who posed the question to the end of the racism and health piece that I published in 2019 in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, where very near the end of the article, I list a number of other disciplines and other people we need to partner with in order to do this important work. In the interest of time, I'll let you read the list there, but I think that it's very important. One of the things I'm excited about is that I don't only train public health students, but many of my students have gone on to be lawyers, in business schools, and organizational spaces. So, the training in mental health can be used to inform the spaces that they're in.
In terms of churches, that's been a space that, for me in particular, I've seen some growth in ways that I didn't expect. So, there's still stigma and challenges there, but during the pandemic, churches here in the local community, one in particular, I did sort of an infomercial that was shown during services about some of the mental health effects of COVID-19 and what folks could do about it. I talked with a couple of pastors about the value of listening circles, and I think that there are ways that you can partner with healers and the Association of Black Psychologists in ways that don't have to be conceptualized as formal mental health services. This particular church is a more elderly population, and the idea of listening circles was well-received. So, we have a mental health ministry at the church that I attend here in Ann Arbor where we're having the conversations and pushing them a little bit.
So, that's one thing, I think churches are important partners. We've got some grant funding with Detroit USC, where we've been working closely with pastors in Detroit. The last thing I'll say is, around this issue of art, I am dying to partner with artists. There's a lot of community-based participatory work where we've used photos, but there's a lot of work that's done where people have brought people in the community in through writing poetry or writing their stories and having the community members publish their stories and publish their work and publish their art. That doesn't take a lot to do, but it's a way of bringing people in and validating people's experiences. I have a younger brother, my only brother, who's a playwright in Brooklyn, and I've been dying to collaborate and work with him. He's a youth leader and innovator in that space. So, I've been looking for opportunities, not just with him but in the Detroit space to partner and give artists a voice and opportunities to speak on these issues.
So, those are some of the things. Music is important, theater is important, dramatic art is important, and there are many other forms of art that I think we need to pull into the same way I say, have conversations with sociologists, historians, criminal justice folks. We've got to bring in some of those people to spaces. I think a lot of times we think that it's like, oh, we've never done that, how will would we do that, what would it look like? Just start somewhere. Have a meeting. Bring together folks and try to find areas of common ground, and I think we build from there.
COLLENE LAWHORN: Wonderful. Thank you, and I think I will turn it over to Crystal.
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: It is my distinct pleasure to virtually present you, Dr. Neblett, with our inaugural National Institute of Mental Health James Jackson Memorial Award. Dr. Neblett, for your exceptional individual achievement and leadership in mental health disparities research and excellence in mentorship, influence, and support of students - particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, or BIPOC students - we honor you as embodying the spirit of legacy of Dr. Jackson, and we thank you for your outstanding scholarship and commitment to the field of disparities of minority mental health, to the community, and to students and trainees. We heartily congratulate you.
ENRIQUE W. NEBLETT: This is a tremendous honor, and I can't even express in words the meaning and significance of this award to me today and in my career. As I wrote in the application materials, I said, I think if I were to be awarded this award, it would be a turning point in my career, and I really believe that. I just want to thank those of you who spent time with me today and came to be a part of this conversation, for your excellent questions, and for your support of my work and mentorship over these last many years. I still think my career is young, so I hope I have a lot of a ways to go.
I'm just grateful and thankful for my students, my former trainees - you know, Dr. Jackson and I - when I came here, one of the things that I was hoping was that I would have the opportunity to learn from him. We started to do some work together and we got a couple of good conversations going. We were very excited about the issues. As a universe would have it, that opportunity will not present itself, but what an honor to be recognized in this way and to have the hope that he is up there with blessings, looking over me and the work that we're doing and watching over us. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.
CRYSTAL L. BARKSDALE: With that, we would like to thank everyone for attending this NIMH James Jackson Memorial Award virtual lecture. We congratulate Dr. Neblett, our awardee. Thank you for attending.