University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


CFS faculty give recommendations to reduce disparities among marginalized groups

Linda M Callejas, Svetlana Yampolskaya, Connie Walker-Egea, Anna Abella

Anna Abella, Linda M Callejas, Svetlana Yampolskaya, and Connie Walker-Egea were recently recognized at a CFS luncheon.

Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) faculty Linda M. Callejas, PhD; Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD; Connie Walker-Egea, PhD; and Anna Abella, PhD, presented findings and recommendations to state officials generated from an evaluation of statewide equity initiatives undertaken by the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA). The presentation to the DMHA Health Equity Committee, which is leading equity efforts for the division, included several behavioral health leaders and administrators working together to reduce disparities among historically underserved and marginalized groups throughout the state.

Housed within the state’s Family and Social Services Administration, the DMHA sets care standards for the provision of mental health and addiction services statewide. In addition, DMHA provides funding support for mental health and addiction services to target populations with financial need and administers federal funds earmarked for substance abuse prevention projects. The division certifies all community mental health centers and addiction treatment services providers within the state and operates six psychiatric hospitals.

As part of its commitment to ensure access to quality services that promote individual, family and community resiliency and recovery, DMHA has established a Health Equity Committee to operationalize equity and eliminate systemic barriers experienced by diverse underserved communities. The committee includes administrators and state officials. USF evaluators worked closely with the DMHA Health Equity Committee leadership as part of a participatory evaluation process to document efforts to increase equity within the division and throughout the behavioral health systems it oversees.  

Findings and Recommendations Statewide Evaluation: Indiana Division of Mental Health & Addiction Health Equity Initiatives, Reports 1 & 2

Findings and recommendations were presented to state officials.

Yampolskaya and Walker-Egea presented an overview of a disparities outcomes analysis that they conducted. The results of the analysis based on the Mental Health and the Treatment Episode administrative data demonstrated how socio-demographic characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, gender, and other demographics affect various client outcomes.
Abella presented an overview of two qualitative sub-studies conducted to better understand how state-sponsored equity initiatives are understood and/or implemented by DMHA-supported providers and grassroots organizations led by and primarily serving communities of color.
Callejas presented a synthesis of all evaluation components and general recommendations to support DMHAs Health Equity Committee as they work to operationalize equity with an ultimate goal of eliminating behavioral health disparities among historically underserved and marginalized communities.
Findings of the year-long evaluation study identified opportunities for increasing engagement of populations at risk of treatment drop-out, improving communication of equity initiatives and increasing collaboration in various state regions for large formal providers to equitably partner with grassroots organizations that are embedded in historically underserved communities, and which may therefore be more trusted by local community residents.

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The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.