Vickie Mays, PhD, is a senior fellow at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR), a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA’s College of Letters and Science, a professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health (FSPH), special advisor to the Chancellor, and director of the UCLA Bridging Research, Innovation, Training and Education (BRITE) Center for Science, Research and Policy.
Mays’ research expertise centers around mental and physical health disparities affecting racial and ethnic minority groups. She has extensive experience in research and policy development in the area of contextual factors that surround COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS in racial and ethnic minority communities. Additionally, Mays’ work also looks at topics such as the role of discrimination on mental and physical health outcomes, and the availability and access of mental health services for racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities.
Mays directs the NIH-funded UCLA BRITE Center, which was created to support the innovative use of research, science, and policy development to help eliminate disparities in physical and mental health for communities that are traditionally underserved by academic research. The BRITE Center brings academic and community members from many disciplines — psychology, law, public policy, medicine, sociology, and more — to study and address disparities.
Mays teaches courses on mental health services and mental health policies, the health status and health behaviors of racial and ethnic minority groups; research ethics in biomedical and behavioral research in racial/ethnic minority populations; health disparities; research methods in minority research; as well as courses on the social determinants of health and mental health. Additionally, she served as the co-principal investigator of the Center’s California Quality of Life Survey, which studies a cohort of UCLA CHPR’s California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to understand the prevalence of mental health issues and the contextual factors related to them.
Mays has provided testimony to a number of congressional committees, the National Academy, and other policy-setting groups on her COVID-19 predictive equity model, HIV, mental health, and health disparities research findings. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics work group on SOGI and SDOH which will send reports to the HHS Secretary advising on the format and collection of this data in clinical encounters, administrative data, research, and survey data.
May has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed publications and has spoken on multiple national, state, and local media outlets, including The Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Forbes, and USA Today.
She holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts, an MSPH in health services from UCLA FSPH, with postdoctoral training in psychiatric epidemiology and survey research as it applies to ethnic minorities (University of Michigan) and health policy (RAND Corporation).
Without workers, no amount of funding or tweaking mental health policies will be enough, says Vickie Mays, a psychology professor and director of the BRITE Center for Science, Research, and Policy (Bridging Research Innovation, Training, and Education) at UCLA. She says the state and federal government need to increase mental health training programs and encourage more students to enter the field.