Innovations in Social Determinants of Health: Applying the Structural Competency Framework to Mental Health Care and Mental Health Care Research

June 27, 2022

3:30 P.M. – 4:30 P.M. ET

About the Webinar

Structural competency is a new educational framework for training health professionals to recognize and respond to disease and its unequal distribution as the outcome of social structures, such as laws, policies, institutions, and systems. It is a corrective to individualizing frames that emphasize genetic, behavioral, and lifestyle explanations for disease etiology and distribution. It also expands on the social determinants of health literature by connecting health-relevant social conditions with their “upstream” structural drivers. To date, the framework has been taken up in various health professional training programs. This presentation provides an overview of the structural competency framework and discusses recent literature applying the framework in mental health care, as well as reflection on how the framework might extend to mental health care research.

About the Speakers

Michael Harvey, Ph.D.

Michael Harvey, Dr.P.H.
Assistant Professor
Temple University

Dr. Michael Harvey is an Assistant Professor in Temple University’s College of Public Health. He is a social scientist and qualitative methodologist with interests in social theory, academic public health education, and health needs within indigenous Guatemalan communities. His research to date has sought to understand the theoretical content of U.S. public health instruction, and the implications of that content for the field’s ability to address pressing public health issues. Within the literature, he has advocated for the inclusion of social theoretical perspectives to complement the current behavioral theoretical ones. He is also involved in the development of the emerging instructional framework of structural competency, which entails the trained ability to recognize and respond to disease and its unequal distribution as the outcome of social structures, such as policies, laws, systems, and institutions. Finally, he has been involved in rural Guatemala for the past 10 years collaborating with Guatemalan colleagues to expand access to health care services within indigenous communities. He holds a Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kelly Knight, Ph.D.

Kelly Knight, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Kelly Knight is a medical anthropologist, Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Knight is currently Principal Investigator (PI) of a NIDA-funded ethnographic study, “Examining the Consequences of Reductions in Opioid Prescribing on Patients, Clinical Care, and Community Health” (RO1DA043631). She has served as PI, or Co-PI, on multiple federally-funded qualitative studies of opioid prescribing in primary care settings; access and utilization of methadone and buprenorphine treatments; HIV/AIDS prevention and care; and the health and healthcare utilization of people experiencing homelessness. Dr. Knight has published 55 peer-reviewed journal articles and an awarding-winning, book-length ethnographic study of women who are opioid-dependent, unstably housed, and pregnant (Duke University Press, 2015). She teaches in the UCSF/UCB medical anthropology graduate program and UCSF Institute of Global Health Sciences and serves as curricular advisor and lecturer in addiction medicine and structural competency for the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Knight received her PhD from the joint doctoral program in Medical Anthropology at University of California, San Francisco/Berkeley, a. M.Ed. from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.

About the Moderator

Dawn Morales, Ph.D.

Dawn Morales, Ph.D.
Chief, Rural and AI/AN Mental Health Programs
Director, Office of Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity (ODWD)
National Institutes of Mental Health, NIH

Dr. Dawn Morales is currently the Program Chief for Rural Mental Health Research in the Office of Rural Mental Health Research and the Office for Disparities Research Workforce Diversity at NIMH, serving as the point of contact for American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Rural Mental Health Research. Prior to joining the NIH, she served as a research statistician at a Veterans Administration Hospital Research Unit in South Carolina, where she served on a wide range of projects from pharmacy, nursing, heart surgery, oral health, cancer genetics, and mental health. Her content interests focus on health disparities, special populations, data science, valid use of statistical techniques, and how policy can influence sound choices in methodological and analytic strategies and improve replicability. She earned her doctorate in Experimental Psychology from the University of California at San Diego, and with the support of an NRSA fellowship, she completed a two-year post-doctoral appointment at the University of Pennsylvania at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, where her studies focused on executive function and cognitive control on aging adults, as well as how to make inferences about causality from diverse empirical literature.