Research Team to Evaluate Mental Healthcare for Diverse Populations

The California Department of Public Health has awarded a six-year contract to Loyola Marymount University to serve as the Statewide Evaluator for Phase II of the California Reducing Disparities Project.

The California Reducing Disparities Project works to reduce mental health disparities across five target populations that include African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, Native Americans and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) communities. Disparities in healthcare access, quality and outcomes are well-documented among the Project’s target communities, and the goal is to reduce these disparities through culturally competent mental health service programs across the state.

LMU’s Psychology Applied Research Center will evaluate the effectiveness of the Project’s pilot programs across the state, through a multi-year study using community-based participatory research methods.

“In mental health, there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Cheryl Grills, psychology professor at LMU and director of PARC. “Mental healthcare that is rooted in one’s own culture and experience can most effectively address the need, alleviate the pain, and promote healing.”

Grills hopes that the team’s evaluation research will eventually inform future mental health program design and priorities – not just in California but nationwide. “This is really part of a paradigm shift in healthcare,” she said.

Established in 2009, the Psychology Applied Research Center is a grant-funded center that collaborates with community-based organizations and groups to inform social change and development through applied, action-oriented research. Grills has received numerous awards for her work in community psychology, including the Drum Major for Service Award from Barack Obama and a Magis Medal from the Jesuit honors society, Alpha Sigma Nu.