Monday, July 13, 2020 - 11:45am
By:
Alan Flurry

The EMPOWER Lab in the department of psychology - Engaging Minorities in Prevention Outreach Wellness Education and Research – is an important new development within our campus community. Racial stressors, the verbal, behavioral, or environmental stressors that individuals experience because of their race, may include being ignored or insulted by White coworkers, not being considered for jobs or positions, being told that they are overreacting to racial issues, behaviors or features being deemed as (e.g., hair, lifestyle) unprofessional, or being unwillingly exposed to racist material.

Racial stressors have been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Black Americans shown to be dying at a disproportionately higher rate than their White counterparts. Across most states, the number of COVID-19 deaths for Black people for every 100,000 deaths was 54.9, compared with Latinx (24.9), Asian (24.3), and White (22.7) people. As the country was forced into a life of social distancing and searched the internet daily for breaking news relating to the virus, the effects of COVID-19 on Black Americans were further compounded by social media and news sources calling attention to the longstanding problem of anti-Black racism and injustice in the United States.

Assistant professor Isha Metzger and her EMPOWER team have received a multiyear, $1M SAMHSA grant to research community applications in HIV and substance misuse populations with a focus on trauma exposed ethnic minority groups.

There is an urgent need for an enhanced infrastructure in GA to increase the capacity to implement, improve, and sustain effective evidence-based HIV prevention and substance misuse services among trauma-exposed racial/ethnic minorities in underserved communities. Dr. Isha Metzger was recently awarded a 5-year, $1 million grant to target two pervasive public health concerns, HIV and substance misuse. “Project NaviGAte: Connecting Georgia to Substance Use and HIV Prevention” will allow Dr. Metzger and her team to provide much needed navigation services, develop a public health messaging and awareness campaign, and enhance HIV and substance misuse screening, prevention and treatment for trauma exposed ethnic minorities in Georgia. Project NaviGAte is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to target 4 of the 48 federally-designated “hotspots” hardest hit by the HIV epidemic: Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties in GA.

Congratulations to faculty and students engaged in this urgent effort. We're proud to support your work and the difference it will make in our communities.