Witness for Wellness: preliminary findings from a community-academic participatory research mental health initiative

Ethn Dis. Winter 2006;16(1 Suppl 1):S18-34.


Quality improvement programs promoting depression screening and appropriate treatment can significantly reduce racial and ethnic disparities in mental-health care and outcomes. However, promoting the adoption of quality-improvement strategies requires more than the simple knowledge of their potential benefits. To better understand depression issues in racial and ethnic minority communities and to discover, refine, and promote the adoption of evidence-based interventions in these communities, a collaborative academic-community participatory partnership was developed and introduced through a community-based depression conference. This partnership was based on the community-influenced model used by Healthy African-American Families, a community-based agency in south Los Angeles, and the Partners in Care model developed at the UCLA/RAND NIMH Health Services Research Center. The integrated model is described in this paper as well as the activities and preliminary results based on multimethod program evaluation techniques. We found that combining the two models was feasible. Significant improvements in depression identification, knowledge about treatment options, and availability of treatment providers were observed among conference participants. In addition, the conference reinforced in the participants the importance of community mobilization for addressing depression and mental health issues in the community. Although the project is relatively new and ongoing, already substantial gains in community activities in the area of depression have been observed. In addition, new applications of this integrated model are underway in the areas of diabetes and substance abuse. Continued monitoring of this project should help refine the model as well as assist in the identification of process and outcome measures for such efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Aged
  • Community Participation*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Los Angeles
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Universities*