GUEST: Dr. Chandra Story (in studio), professor and interim chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance, and Dr. Carmelita Dotson, assistant professor and coordinator of the Bachelor of Social Work program (on phone)
TOPIC: The professors co-authored a grant that supported recent town halls on mental health in communities of color
Although studies have uncovered ethnic disparities in COVID-19 mortality, two Middle Tennessee State University professors in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences teamed up to address the after-effects the pandemic has had on mental health in communities of color.
Professor Chandra Story, interim chair in the Department of Health and Human Performance, and assistant professor Carmelita L. Dotson, Bachelor of Social Work coordinator, co-authored a grant with assistant professor Donna Dopwell, director of Social Work at Tennessee State University, to build capacity for mental health among communities of color in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grant funding came through the Office of Minority Health at the Tennessee Department of Health.
“The culmination of this one-year grant is town hall meetings in Murfreesboro and Davidson County,” said Story, a member of the Tennessee Health Disparities Task Force.
The meeting in Murfreesboro took place Tuesday, Nov. 14, at The Fountains in Suite 4D, 1500 Medical Center Parkway. Davidson County’s meeting was held Wednesday, Nov. 15, at CrossBRIDGE, 35 Lindsley Ave. in Nashville. Meetings were free and open to the public.
Black families had higher levels of comorbidity, mortality and complications in relation to COVID-19, Story said. This was due to a myriad of factors, which could include early misdiagnosis of COVID-19, chronic disease, and living conditions. Her own network of family and friends were affected, she said.
“Rutherford County and Davidson County were two of the hardest-hit counties other than Shelby County,” Doston said. “And Murfreesboro is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. So we’re looking at how to bridge the gap between the counties and share resources with each other and how we can share initiatives.”
In addition to presentation of data, the meetings provided opportunities for small-group engagement to discuss the results.
Story also served as co-chair of the American Association of Public Health Women’s Caucus policy subcommittee.