Welcome to The EQUITY Research Group’s website, a lab within the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. We passionately explore the profound impact of social drivers of health on diverse communities. From stress related to cultural adaptation to limited access to nutritious food, these challenges adversely affect physical and mental health, perpetuating health inequities faced by disadvantaged groups. As trailblazers in mental health equity research, we champion the wellbeing of systematically underinvested communities, developing inclusive interventions and strategies for youth, adults, and families. Join us in this transformative journey to create a healthier, more equitable world.
Social determinants of health have a significant impact on the well-being of different communities, both directly and indirectly. These determinants can expose disadvantaged groups to various risks, such as stress related to cultural adaptation, limited access to nutritious food, unsafe housing, and discrimination. These challenges can adversely affect physical and mental health over time. The clustering of these social determinants of health contributes to the persistence and worsening of health inequities, which refer to systematic and avoidable health differences experienced by socially disadvantaged groups. Strikingly, those in greatest need of quality healthcare often have the lowest access to evidence-based care, leading to healthcare inequities. Understanding and addressing these social determinants of health are essential to promote better health outcomes and reduce inequities in health and healthcare access.
We strive to exist as the leading academic research group focused on achieving mental health equity in groups who have been systematically underinvested in, leading to their disenfranchisement and marginalization, and ultimately health inequities.
We are devoted to developing, testing, and disseminating interventions and implementation strategies focused on ensuring equitable, high-quality mental health care for underinvested communities, as well as inclusive and culturally-conscious treatments for youth, adults, and families.
Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:
We are located at the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Department of Psychology, which is housed in Pearse-Garland Hall. The department has concentration areas in clinical psychology, neuroscience, health psychology, and most recently health equity. To learn more, visit the psychology department website.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, or UWM as locally known, is an R-1 state research institution located several miles away from Lake Michigan in a historic neighborhood on the East Side of Milwaukee. Visit the UWM website to learn more about our beloved institution.
City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
Milwaukee is a diverse and growing Midwestern city situated along Lake Michigan. Milwaukee is ranked as one of the most segregated cities in the US, giving rise to an array of inequities. We are working to reduce these inequities alongside a broad range of community partner organizations and organizers who have a long history of doing this work. We are grateful to be able to contribute to the changes happening in the city and excited for what the future holds for our community.
Milwaukee is one of the most underrated metropolitan cities in the Midwest, if not the US. Milwaukee offers plenty of attractions in the way of water sports, breweries and restaurants, museums, and shows. It is only a short distance from the capitol of Madison (1.5 hour drive) and the Chicago metropolitan area (1.5 hour drive). Learn more about the city we love by visiting the Visit Milwaukee website.
If you consider yourself a “foodie”, Milwaukee is for you as the city has some of the best restaurants around. Check out this blog for some recommendations on some of the most well-known restaurants in the area.
Even in the winter, this city is bustling with activity and plenty of outdoor and indoor attractions. National Geographic even recognized Milwaukee as one of the best destinations for “slow travel”.
Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Our lab is committed to ensuring that we improve the field of mental health by increasing access to needed care for groups who have been historically and presently underserved, as well as increasing representation in our workforce.
Equity is central to our work:
We strive to be equity-minded in all of the efforts in which we are engaged – research, clinical, training, and advocacy. To this end, we work to understand the upstream social drivers of health that have downstream effects that disproportionately, systematically, and adversely affect communities who are disenfranchised, marginalized, and underinvested in. To describe the concept of equity, we have really liked the graphics put forth by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (above).
Commitment to Social Justice:
We believe the mental health care is a human right. We are keenly attuned to ways in which power, privilege, and wealth/resources are unfairly distributed in our society, in ways that systematically benefit some communities while systematically disenfranchising and marginalizing others. These systems include, but are not limited to, racism, xenophobia, sexism, religious persecution, heterosexism/LGBTQ+ intolerance, classism, ableism, and ageism, among others. Our research and advocacy work aims to contribute to the redistribution power, privilege, and wealth/resources so that all members of our society have access to high-quality, culturally-conscious mental health care as well as can live, work, and play in communities that promote resilience and health.
Efforts to Diversify the Mental Health Workforce:
To reach our ultimate goal of supporting the mental health of communities that have been underinvested in, we are devoted to training and supporting individuals from backgrounds that have been underrepresented in psychology as mental health care providers and educators so that our field can more accurately reflect all members of society. As such, the majority of our team members are from minoritized racial/ethnic backgrounds, are first-generation students, and come from low-income homes. By receiving training with the EQUITY Research Group, our team members are competitive applicants to institutional, regional, and national awards and fellowships that further support their ability to advance academically, professionally, and personally.
The EQUITY Research Group acknowledges that in Milwaukee we are on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Menominee homeland along the southwest shores of Michigami, North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida and Mohican nations remain present.
Our Name & Logo
What does our name stand for?
Equity is at the heart of our work. But, our name is also an acronym exemplifying our central focus:
(Q)uality mental health care for
(U)ndersinvested communities and
(Y)outh, adults and families
Where does our name come from?
The tree represents wellness, growth, and flourishing. Our research group is interested in developing and and disseminating treatments that have front-of-mind the experiences and contexts that underserved communities face (e.g., social drivers of health, structural oppression). We thus seek to increase access to treatments that can foster holistic wellbeing within these
groups, despite chronic and compounding stressors. Further, trees are resilient by their extensive root systems (connections with their community of trees) and the nutrients they are exposed to such as sunshine and rain. We seek to identify those critical ingredients (target for intervention) that foster wellness, growth, and flourishing.
The use of (pride) colors represents inclusion and celebration of distinct underserved communities, including LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and immigrants, among others.
The dots represent diversity in size, shape, and color to communicate that we are all one, not despite but because of our differences.
The formation of the dots (leaves) on the same tree represent community and togetherness, unified by similar sources of resilience.
The EQUITY Research Group was first established by Principal Investigator Dr. Gabriela Nagy at Duke University School of Medicine, and later expanded to the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Fall 2022. Prior to returning to UWM, Dr. Nagy was faculty at Duke University in the Department of Psychiatry (School of Medicine), Department of Population Health Sciences (School of Medicine), School of Nursing, and Duke Global Health Institute.