Information For...


Health Disparities Institute to Focus on Mental Health & Drug Abuse; Set for Oct. 21-22

At a glance...

Oct. 21-22, 2010

Location: Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas

Web site:

Registration Forms:
General Attendance
UVI Personnel

Everyone interested in the state of mental health and substance abuse in the Caribbean is invited to the 3rd Annual Health Disparities Institute scheduled for Oct. 21 and 22, at the Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort on St. Thomas. The institute is hosted by the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center of Excellence (CERC), of the University of the Virgin Islands School of Nursing. CERC is funded by a grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

The theme of the Institute is "State of Mental Health and Substance Abuse: An Issue of All Ethnic/ Minorities and Caribbean Populations." The Institute will include panels of local and Caribbean experts involved with mental health care, concurrent sessions featuring presenters from across the country addressing mental health issues, and poster sessions. Research scholars will also present their projects. The Institute also offers an opportunity for networking.

"The Institute will bring together experts in the field of mental health to explore the challenges ethnic minority and Caribbean populations face in accessing needed services," said Dr. Gloria Callwood, director of CERC. "Participants will have the opportunity to actively participate in identifying solutions to better serve this vulnerable population. All health professionals, particularly mental health professionals, will benefit from the Institute."

Keynoters for plenary and luncheon sessions include Deputy Medical Director of the American Psychiatric Association Dr. Annelle Primm, and St. Kitts/Nevis psychiatrist and Ambassador to the United States Dr. Izben Williams. Because the care of the mentally ill is a community concern, politicians, advocates, consumers of mental health services and anyone interested in improving services to the mentally ill should plan to attend, Dr. Callwood said.

"It is our hope, that as an outcome of this Institute, we will have developed some viable solutions to the most pressing issues and galvanized a cadre of community leaders to take the necessary action to improve services to the mentally ill," Dr. Callwood said. It is consistently estimated that in most populations, about three percent suffer from serious mental illnesses and 20 percent have milder, but diagnosable mental disorders, Dr. Callwood said.

Health disparities are the differences in occurrence, severity and burden of diseases, and differences in life expectancy that exist between groups. While disparities in health and health care impact everyone, persons most affected are minority populations. The University of the Virgin Islands School of Nursing established the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center of Excellence in 2007 to address health disparities.

The Center is funded by a five-year, $6.1 million grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities which was established by Congress in 2000. It has had the effect of raising the issue of health disparities to a critical national priority. Since then, there has been increasing awareness and interest in health disparities and support for eliminating these inequities.

Registration information is available on CERC's website, Persons are encouraged to register by Sept. 30 to avoid a late registration fee. Groups of five or more people from the same organization will receive a discount. UVI faculty and staff will also receive a discount.

For additional information, please call Lorna Sutton-Williams at 340-693-1172.