May 7, 2024

Wayne State faculty address mental health from all angles

Empower health

In the United States, more than 1 in 5 adults live in the shadows of mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. At Wayne State University, faculty members in the health science schools are actively engaged in teaching, research and clinical care to address this widespread issue. Their goals are clear: to improve understanding, treatment and awareness of mental health challenges.l

Umeika Stephens
Umeika M. Stephens, is an assistant professor (Clinical) and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner graduate specialty coordinator.

In Wayne State’s College of Nursing, Umeika Stephens is working to ensure the next generation of providers is prepared to address mental health issues. As an assistant clinical professor and the coordinator for the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner graduate program, her work centers on mental health awareness training. This initiative engages students with 675 hours of clinical internships in various mental health environments. The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program guides students through the complex issues of mental health treatment, encompassing medication management, individual therapy, and broader group and family therapies.

On the research front, J. Lloyd Allen, an associate professor in the School of Social Work, is pioneering research on the mental health challenges encountered by Black male students, such as stigma and limited access to services. Allen employs hip-hop music as a therapeutic tool, enabling students to express themselves and connect with their experiences. This innovative approach not only serves as therapy but also significantly contributes to destigmatizing mental health issues within the community.

 J. Lloyd Allen, Ph.D joined Wayne State University’s School of Social Work in 2017 as an assistant professor. 

“The study began as a collaborative effort between a former student and myself,” Allen said. “He proposed using hip-hop to reach Black men, as it resonates with many and often addresses unseen struggles, substance use and unspoken challenges. We saw this as an effective way to encourage open discussions and do research about their experiences.”

Mental health is addressed clinically in the School of Medicine’s Stress, Trauma and Anxiety Research Clinic (STARC). This treatment hub is dedicated to treating anxiety, trauma-related disorders and PTSD through targeted clinical interventions. Run by Arash Javanbakht, a psychiatrist and associate professor (clinical scholar), the clinic offers support to a broad spectrum of individuals including civilians, first responders, law enforcement officers, refugees, and survivors of torture and human trafficking. By delivering specialized clinical care, Javanbakht and his team of psychiatrists and students navigate the complex and diverse challenges that clients face, ensuring they receive the critical support necessary for their healing and recovery. They use a variety of interventions ranging from psychotherapy and medications to advanced AI-enhanced mixed reality technologies and lifestyle changes.

Arash Javanbakht
Arash Javanbakht, M.D., is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences.

“Wayne State takes great pride in its ongoing commitment to enhancing the well-being and quality of life for individuals, families and communities throughout Detroit,” said Laurie Lauzon Clabo, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Addressing mental health is one of society’s greatest challenges, and we’re proud that our faculty, students and researchers are working every day to improve the lives of those we serve.”


Darlene A. White
Phone: 313-577-8093

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