Psychological Perspectives on Justice and Inequality

Thinking about Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation in Mental and Physical Health Disparities


Vickie Mays
Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Research, Education, Training and Strategic Communications on Minority Health Disparities, UCLA

Mar 2, 2017
3:30 to 5:00 pm

Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union

map, parking and directions

Free and open to the public

Dr. Mays is Professor of Psychology and Health Policy Management at UCLA where she also directs the UCLA Center on Bridging Research Innovation, Training, and Education on Minority Health Disparities Solutions. She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology and an MSPH in Health Policy and Management from the RAND Health Policy Program and the UCLA School of Public Health. Her research focuses on elucidating mental and physical health disparities affecting racial/ethnic minority and other underserved populations, and on developing health care models to address these disparities. Dr. Mays has served in numerous governance roles of the American Psychological Association, the American College of Epidemiology, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Public Health Association. She has provided testimony to Congressional Committees and federal agencies on her HIV, mental health and health disparities research. Her research and service has been recognized by awards from the American Medical Foundation on AIDS Research, the American Psychological Association, and others.


A growing body of research examines how race and racism influence health disparities. Much of this work has focused on the role of race-related external factors in the stress process, by examining individual responses among racial minorities to environmental and sociocultural stressors. More recent studies have examined allostatic load in the dysregulation of physiological processes and the long term negative consequences on physical and mental health outcomes. In this talk I will discuss how risk clusters as a function of different social statuses (race, gender, etc) result in African Americans experiencing greater physiological wear and tear accounting for worst physical and mental health outcomes. Recommendations for use of an intersectionality approach in research to account for the ways in which risk clusters can result in differential outcomes will be discussed as the next pathway in disparities research.

Suggested Readings

Mays, V. M. (2000). A social justice agenda. American Psychologist, 55(3), 326-327. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.3.326

Mays, V.M. & Ghavami, N. (2017). History, Aspirations, and Transformations of Intersectionality: Focusing on Gender. C. Travis & J. White (Eds.). American Psychological Association Handbook of the Psychology of Women (Volume 1).

Mays, V. M., Cochran, S. D., and Barnes, N. W. (2007). Race, race-based discrimination, and health outcomes among African Americans. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 201-225.

Mays, V. M. (2012). Research challenges and bioethics responsibilities in the aftermath of the Presidential apology to the survivors of the US Public Health Services syphyllis study at Tuskegee. Ethics & Behavior, 22(6), 419-430.

Distinguished Lecture Series Contact:
Jacqueline Chenault, Department of Psychological Science