Daphne C. Watkins, PhD
Dr. Daphne C. Watkins is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School"s School of Social Work and a faculty associate at the Program for Research on Black Americans at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She has devoted her professional career to health promotion and disease prevention among underserved individuals and communities. An anthropologist and health educator by training, Dr. Watkins" interests include: gender disparities in mental health and mental illness; health education and behavior; and intervention/prevention research. Prior to joining the School of Social Work, Dr. Watkins completed a NIMH-funded postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan as well as a Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Career Development Award at the University of Michigan Medical School. She received her Doctorate in Health Education and Health Behavior from Texas A&M University.
The purpose of my New Connections project is to use cross-sectional data from the National Survey of American Life (NSAL) to examine the influence of psychosocial factors on the mental health of Black men at early, middle and late adulthood. Specific aims are to: 1) identify the psychosocial factors that help shape the mental health of Black men; 2) examine the impact of these psychosocial factors on their mental health; and 3) pinpoint strategies that focus on improving and maintaining mental health outcomes for Black men. Identifying the psychosocial factors that influence mental health for Black men is informed by models that identify the strengths and weaknesses of Black men within and across levels and at different periods over their life"s course. These models will improve our understanding of the risk and protective factors associated with mental health and illness among Black men and assist in developing strategies to improve and maintain their mental health.
Responses from 1271 African American men from the National Survey of American Life suggested that life satisfaction is associated with neither depressive symptoms nor psychological distress for respondents. Self-esteem was protective against depressive symptoms and psychological distress for all respondents with the exception of those in the young adult group (ages 18-34) experiencing psychological distress. Only for respondents in the late adult group (ages 55+) was mastery not protective against depressive symptoms or psychological distress. Findings demonstrate the heterogeneity among African American adult males and the distinct socio-demographic and psychosocial correlates of mental health for each age group.
After completion of my New Connections project, I have further developed research on African-American men"s mental health by working on intramural and extramural proposals that will result in funding for my research team to develop depression awareness materials that are specific to African-American men, per their age-linked life stage. I have also been able to develop manuscripts from the data that I analyzed for this project and subsequent projects.
Why I Applied to New Connections
I applied for the New Connections award because I knew that it would help me advance my career to the next level. The award has allowed me to establish myself as an independent researcher as well as build relationships with individuals at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and across the country.
What New Connections Means for my Career
I am grateful for the New Connections award because it has helped bring research on Black men and mental health to the forefront to receive the national attention it deserves.
Broadly, my interests include: gender disparities in mental health and mental illness; health education and behavior; and intervention/prevention research. I also study how gender role socialization influences mental health over the life course -- particularly among Black-American men. I am interested in using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to increase mental illness knowledge and how knowledge impacts health and health behavior.
Social Work; Public Health
Honors and Awards
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program Award (2007-2009)
National Institute of Health"s Building, Interdisciplinary Careers in Women"s Health Scholar, The University of Michigan Medical School (2007-2009)
University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Minority Scholar (2005-2006)
Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year, Division of Health Education, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University (2005-2006)
After completion of my New Connections project, I have further developed research on African-American men's mental health by working on intramural and extramural proposals that will result in funding for my research team to develop depression awareness materials that are specific to African-American men, per their age-linked life stage. I have also been able to develop manuscripts from the data that I analyzed for this project and subsequent projects.
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