Pepperdine Professor Thema Bryant-Davis Serves as Panelist for National Convening on Minority Mental Health
Thema Bryant-Davis (MDiv ’16), associate professor of psychology at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP), was selected as a speaker and panelist for a joint White House, Department of Health and Human Services, and American Psychological Association Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs conference held in Washington, D.C. on Monday, November 28.
In their decision to include Bryant-Davis, organizers of the meeting cited the significant body of research she has contributed in the area of minority mental health, along with her extensive work for the American Psychological Association, her reputation as a private Los Angeles clinician, and her involvement with GSEP.
Topics addressed at the conference included the unique and persistent behavioral health disparity challenges for communities of color, and the development of possible strategies to resolve these enduring behavioral health equity issues on a national and local level. There was also a review of the unique and innovative best practices, policies, and engagement protocols by both national and local community leaders for youth and young adults.
“The most meaningful part was being able to connect with people across institutions and agencies that are committed to enhancing mental health, especially for underserved populations,” Bryant-Davis says of the experience.
“I hope the information I presented will help families by raising awareness about the unique challenges and strengths of the African American community…and will result in more cultural awareness of counselors, more funding for culturally responsive research, and more culturally responsive policies.”
As a Pepperdine faculty member and a recent alumna of the University’s master of divinity program, Bryant-Davis’ presentation also focused on ways that mental health agencies can better partner with faith communities to serve those who are in need.
Panelists further discussed caring for the caregivers—highlighting the need to confront mental and behavioral health issues for these leaders in their roles as caregivers for the larger community. Additionally, the group explored how the Affordable Care Act and other government healthcare programs can work together to provide the resources and information essential to combating and overcoming these mental health challenges for people of color nationwide.
As a licensed psychologist, minister, and sacred artist, Bryant-Davis joined Pepperdine University in 2007, where she is now a tenured associate professor teaching mental health courses related to trauma and human sexuality. Her appointment as a panelist adds to the significant number of prominent speakers, authors, and award recipients among the distinguished faculty, alumni, and administration at GSEP.
For additional information about Bryant-Davis’ accomplishments and her role at Pepperdine, visit her faculty page on the GSEP website.