January 12, 2024

Najma Mohamed and Lesley Steinman Awarded Tier 1 Pilot Award

Kenzie Lock

Lesley Steinman
Lesley Steinman

Najma Mohamed, Community Health Nurse at Neighborhood House, and Lesley Steinman, Research Scientist at HPRC, were recently awarded a Tier 1 Pilot Award by the University of Washington Population Health Initiative. This grant program is designed to foster new collaborations among interdisciplinary investigators in generating proof-of-concept for future projects. Mohamed and Steinman’s project, Community Codesign to Integrate Low-Barrier, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Mental Health Care into Community-Based Social Services, will build on their established community-academic partnership. The two aim to, “[center] the voices and experiences of the social service workforce and participants,” said Steinman.  

Nearly 1 in 10 US adults lack effective mental health care due to a fragmented clinical mental healthcare system and a shortage of trained, culturally and linguistically appropriate workforce. This shortage is even more pronounced for linguistically diverse elders of color living in poverty. To bridge this gap, Mohamed and Steinman plan to integrate mental health programming into existing community-based social service organizations (CBOs). The goal is to share decision-making power with CBOs and community to “adapt mental health programs [to] align with CBO and community strengths and needs,” said Steinman. 

“Community-academic partnerships are essential to make public health initiatives more impactful, equitable, and sustainable.”

Lesley Steinman

Najma Mohamed

The project will work with and focus on the needs of elder Somali community members across King County, who have difficulty accessing mental health care due to systemic exclusion from care and community stigma. “Many topics surrounding mental health are stigmatized and hidden away out of shame, despite many people in our [Somali] community needing that support. Although this is beginning to shift with our youth, helping our elders heal remains critical,” said Mohamed. 

Mohamed and Steinman’s project will provide evidence for community-based integrated mental health programming and lay a foundation to expand anti-racist human-centered design research. Mohamed stated, “Our goal for the future is further destigmatizing and increasing culturally appropriate mental health services for all clients we serve. Mental health is important, and we commit to advocating for the equitable use of these services.” 

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