Henry Willis

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Henry Willis is a Ph.D. candidate in the Clinical Psychology program and he received his B.S. in psychology from Howard University and his M.A. in clinical psychology from Columbia University. His current interests include exploring the relationship between online and offline racial discrimination and mental health outcomes, understanding sociocultural protective factors (i.e., racial identity) and how they impact psychopathology (i.e., obsessive-compulsive disorder) within African Americans, creating cultural adaptations of evidence-based treatments, and utilizing mobile-health technology to increase access to mental health treatments for underserved populations. In 2018, Henry was awarded the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Dissertation Title: The Associations Between Online Racial Discrimination, Racial Identity, and Psychological Well-Being in African American Young Adults: Implications for mobile-Mental Health Treatments

Dissertation Abstract: Researchers have noted the experience of online racial discrimination (ORD) among African American (AA) young adults continues to rise (e.g., Tynes et al., 2012). Similarly, AA young adults are also continuing to report experiences of interpersonal racial discrimination. Although both forms of discrimination are linked to negative psychological outcomes (i.e., Smith & Silva, 2011), few studies have examined how ORD and RD may interact to impact psychological well-being within this population. Despite these associations, researchers have noted that racial identity – the personal significance and meaning of race, may serve as a protective factor against the impact of RD, but current research is limited in that few studies have explored if RI protects against the influence of ORD. Finally, given the barriers to effective mental health (MH) treatments in AA communities (e.g., inadequate insurance, stigma, etc.), the development of a mobile-Health platform that targets RI and ORD when treating MH within this population may help alleviate disparities in MH-care. As such, Henry’s proposed dissertation will utilize a multi-method investigation (i.e., cross-sectional, longitudinal, and focus group studies) within AA young adult samples in order to: a) explore how ORD, SM, and RD are related to negative mental health symptoms; b) investigate how RI beliefs are related to psychological distress; and c) explore how this population would want to utilize a mobile-Health app aimed at negative MH symptoms. Findings will set the foundation for the development of a culturally-adapted mobile-Health intervention that has the potential to reduce disparities in access to effective and evidence-based treatments within AA communities.