Thea Williams

Identification and removal of barriers to VA mental health treatment for Black female veterans

Thea Williams is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with a minor in mathematics from Savannah State University, a Masters of Social with a concentration in family and policy from the University of Kentucky, and is currently a Doctoral candidate in Social Work at the University of Kentucky. Ms. Williams has worked in the field of mental health for over 18 years. Her first eight years was spent in community mental health working with adults 18 years and older who were diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illnesses. Currently she works at the Lexington VA healthcare system in the general mental health clinic providing therapy to veterans from various eras of service. Through both of these experiences she was able to see the impact of having a mental health diagnosis on individuals, especially people of color. This helped to fuel her desire to assist those who do not feel they have a voice or who feel they are powerless. One particular group that is seen as powerless and voiceless is African American women. Ms. Williams’ research area of interest is the mental health needs of African American women. After working at the VA, she became aware that African American female veterans seemed to have similar experiences with mental health providers as those in the general population despite the promise of receiving guaranteed care. This became the driving force behind her DSW capstone project which focuses on addressing barriers to effective, equitable, and culturally competent mental health treatment for African American female veterans seeking care from the VA.