Disparities in Infectious and Chronic Diseases, including Mental Health

Share this content

February 9, 2023

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis County. 

Disparities in Infectious and Chronic Diseases, Including Mental Health

February 8, 2023 Podcast:

Audio file

Moderators Shannon Jones and Jacki Hecht interviewed Heather Cooks-Sinclair, an Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit Manager at Austin Public Health that services the City of Austin and Travis County.

Heather Cooks-Sinclair and her team strive to promote health within Travis County. As an Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Manager, her team collaborates to determine the cause of illnesses that are reported, and recommends ways to prevent further spread. Health data from the City of Austin is closely examined to identify the incidence of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and COVID-19. Data shows that African Americans and Hispanics are more commonly impacted by these conditions compared to their White and Asian counterparts. Cook-Sinclair notes that the numbers are analyzed closely to determine ways to close the gaps in health disparities in populations who are most affected.

Most striking is that mental health disparities within the City of Austin have increased by about 10% within the past three years. Young adults within the ages of 18-29 have shown big increases in mental health struggles during these years. Rates of anxiety and suicide have also increased within Travis County and have affected all age groups. Ms. Cooks-Sinclair notes the discrepancy between the limited access to quality care and the growing mental health needs that we have seen. To address these gaps, Austin Public Health is partnering with Integral Care and community health workers to further assess the needs of Travis County and promote mental health and well-being.

The AMEN program has also focused on supporting mental health during this time. AMEN has offered classes on grief and loss, loneliness, and strategies to improve mental well-being. Social connection, physical activity and being in nature are important ways to promote mental thriving. In addition, Ms. Hecht shares that now is an ideal time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine booster. The federal government may soon be discontinuing the provision of free COVID-19 booster vaccinations, at which point individuals will have to start paying for their vaccine through their health insurance or out-of-pocket.

Unfortunately, technical connection was lost in the middle of recording this episode. Visit the show notes for additional resources and please check back soon for more KAZI news.

A Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) has been created by the City of Austin, Travis County, and community partners for affected residents to access resources and help our community recover. A MARC is a collaborative, “one stop shop” where public and private organizations come together to aid those affected by disaster. For a list of locations and hours of operation please visit the Resource and Information Centers or call 211.

Learn more about AMEN podcast and check out other episodes!
Visit AMEN Podcast Resources.