Researcher using technology to improve mental healthcare

“Mental health awareness, prevention and treatment seems to be only addressed or funded during times of tragedy. But care should be continuous.

As a Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, I saw reoccurring themes from patients and families involving system fragmentation, overwhelming feelings and social disadvantages. One patient I will never forget. He was African-American, 22 years old, lost both of his parents to substance abuse and was adjusting to a new diagnosis of Schizophrenia. I went home that night with a burning desire to address socioeconomic factors to improve treatment for individuals with serious mental illness.

I recently received national funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Minority Fellowship Program for my research, which is using innovative technology to explore the “five A’s” to healthcare – affordability, availability, accessibility, accommodation and acceptability – related to mental health clinics and hospitals for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in Florida. Identifying individuals most at risk at discharge from a psychiatric facility could enhance continuity of care in outpatient settings.

The stories of patients whose lives are improved by mental health nursing care inspires me every day. There were many times where I felt I was not “good enough.” But I worked hard to turn challenges into successes in my professional and personal growth.

I have also been blessed to have support from my professors at UCF, PhD cohort colleagues and family that remind me of who I am and my goals. UCF has also provided tremendous opportunity for my research, including an interdisciplinary “Big Data” series where I could gain different perspectives for my research.”

 

UCF Affiliations

  • PhD Student, UCF College of Nursing, Class of 2019