Abstract: Disparities in Mental Health for Underserved Populations: Best Practices for Affordable Care

The Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities was funded by NIMH for 8 years. A multidisciplinary team of health and mental health investigators primarily from UCLA and Drew Universities supported numerous bio behavioral studies of the relationships between stress and trauma and symptoms of PTSD and depression, four of which will compose the sample of over 500 African American and Latino, English speaking men and women, regardless of HIV status. This presentation will describe the cumulative burden of lifetime adversities, stress and trauma identified in these populations that is often overlooked and not addressed in mental health systems as we know them now. For example, one study of the biomarkers of stress measured in African American women highlighted the effects of severe sexual abuse perpetrated early In life showing lasting effects and biomarker levels similar for women 20 years older. Finally, the Center faculty has developed the UCLA Life Adversities Index, a screener to be used in future primary care settings to identify those at risk for symptoms of PTSD and depression. The Index will better identify individuals with life adversities and trauma and to ask more comprehensive and relevant questions that can capture their life experiences and better help to coordinate appropriate mental health services for underserved populations.