UCLA’s BRITE Center for Science, Research and Policy has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, through the Princeton Area Community Foundation. The center's mission is to support the innovative use of research, science and policy development to help eliminate disparities in physical and mental health for communities that are traditionally underserved by academic research.

The BRITE Center is directed by Vickie Mays, professor of psychology in the UCLA College, and of health policy and management in the Fielding School of Public Health. Mays also serves as the U.S. House representative to the federal advisory committee of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. 

The grant is being used to convene scholars with expertise in mental or behavior health disorders or treatments in racial and ethnic minorities, with the aim of developing a network of researchers to address workforce issues associated with integrated care under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The  scholars, who will meet in Washington, D.C. this week, will function as a learning lab to offer insights into best strategies for supporting and strengthening successful research efforts to address behavioral and mental health disparities, said Mays, who is principal investigator of the project. Rosina Becerra, professor of social welfare and director of field education in the Luskin School of Public Affairs, is co-director of the project.

Many racial/ethnic minorities receive health care who previously have sought their care through emergency rooms now receive care under ACA.

“Under the ACA, there is a critical need for a network of academic researchers with an expertise in addressing mental and physical health disparities among underserved populations in primary care settings,” Mays said.

“We now have a chance to address not only their mental health needs but those aspects of behavioral health that are necessary for the prevention of health and mental health disorders,” said Mays. The project will also self-care behaviors to address and prevent chronic health diseases that sometimes may be rooted in mental health concerns, she said.