Terika McCall is a Ph.D. candidate in the Carolina Health Informatics Program. She earned her master of public health degree in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2010, and her master of business administration degree in management from Wake Forest University in 2016. She is a National Library of Medicine Biomedical Informatics and Data Science Fellow.
What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?
It was important for me to choose a place where I would feel fully supported. I have that here at Carolina. I am fortunate to have a great advisor, and the support of my program director and the administrative staff.
Tell us about your research.
My research focuses on reducing disparities in mental health service utilization among African-American women through the use of mobile technology. Specifically, I am examining the attitudes and perceptions of African-American women toward using mental health services, and the acceptability of using mobile technology to receive mental health services and resources to help manage anxiety and depression.
African-American women experience rates of mental illness comparable to the general population (18.6% vs. 18.9%). However, they utilize mental health services at less than half the rate of their white counterparts (10.6% compared to 23.4%). Previous studies revealed that telehealth interventions are effective and can be used to increase access to services. Given that 80% of African-American women own a smartphone, the use of smartphones to
deliver mental health interventions to this population needs to be further explored.
How have you built community as a graduate student at Carolina?
I have been able to build community at Carolina by being involved in activities within my department and throughout the University. The connections I have made from attending Initiative for Minority Excellence activities have helped me on my journey to candidacy by providing encouragement, guidance and resources.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
In the future, I plan to continue working to find ways we can use technology to reduce health disparities in underserved communities. I am a big advocate for mobile health interventions because I believe the best solutions incorporate technology that the patient already has access to and that requires minimal education on its use.