There is a growing awareness of the immense burden of disability associated with mental illness. In response to the need for action in the area of mental health, the School of Social Work established the Southern Institute for Mental Health Advocacy, Research and Training (SMHART). SMHART’s mission is to improve mental health service delivery in rural and urban Mississippi, particularly for African Americans and other underrepresented populations in the State. To accomplish this goal, SMHART focuses on three areas: mental health advocacy, research, and training.
Establish a mental health research agenda within SMHART that promotes investigation of the cultural aspects of helpseeking behavior and culturally competent mental health service delivery using qualitative and quantitative methods.
Provide training in cultural competence with a particular emphasis on African Americans and other underrepresented mental health service consumers to mental health service providers, including grassroots ancillary service providers such as African American religious clerics, teachers, homebased care providers for children and the elderly, and other leaders in the community.
Promote mental health advocacy at the local, state, and national levels in order to reduce stigma associated with mental illness and shape mental health policy.