“We certainly need to advance public understanding of mental health, if you look at just mental disorders in the U.S., the numbers for children and youth in drug use, depression and anxiety are quite high. We’re really not doing enough,” Willis said.
Of particular concern to Dr. Willis is early intervention and good health care for mothers of severe economic disadvantage. Herself a member of the Kiowa Tribe, Willis worked extensively with Native Americans on reservations.
“It’s a saving grace if we can get a very early head start on programs for children and families — start them out early,” Willis said. “When I worked on the reservations, we prioritized getting pregnant women in, getting them properly fed and providing good health care and maternity instruction. Just those things made a crucial difference.”
Prospective candidates must apply by Jan. 31. For more information on the award and eligibility criteria, visit www.apa.org and search Diane J. Willis Early Career Award.