The Health Pulse: From basketball to mental health data, Dr. Dawnté Early drives a community-centric approach

Dr. Dawnté Early (she/her) is the Chief of Research and Evaluation for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission in California. Dr. Early supports the Commission’s mission is to transform the mental health system so that everyone who needs care in California receives high-quality and culturally competent care. A big part of her job is bringing together mental health data at the individual level with data from different agencies, including criminal justice, education, quarterly wage, and death and birth data, to identify social determinants of health and uncover disparities. Greg asks about the challenge of overcoming stigma in mental health, and Dr. Early shares that having conversations that normalize and contextualize mental health needs is critical, as is using humanizing language around mental health. The Commission plays role in ensuring these conversations are taking place and that the community is engaged throughout the process. Lastly, Dr. Early shares her vision for the Commission’s role in connecting data to policy to community to outcomes in order to drive more early intervention and prevention in mental health for the betterment of individuals, families and communities.

Dr. Dawnté Early (she/her) is the Chief of Research and Evaluation for the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission in California. Dr. Early joined Greg for a chat about whole person care, and she shared that her love of sports (she played college basketball and coached her children’s teams) instilled a desire to give back to her community. In her current role, Dr. Early supports the Commission’s mission is to transform the mental health system so that everyone who needs care in California receives high-quality and culturally competent care. A big part of her job is bringing together mental health data at the individual level with data from different agencies, such as criminal justice, education, quarterly wage, and death and birth data, to identify social determinants of health and uncover disparities. The commission also plays a key role in engaging with other agencies and systems to help support early intervention and care. Greg asks about the challenge of overcoming stigma in mental health, and Dr. Early shares that having conversations that normalize and contextualize mental health needs is critical, as is using humanizing language around mental health. The Commission plays role in ensuring these conversations are taking place and that the community is engaged throughout the process—in determining what questions to ask the data and by giving input on how data-driven insights can impact effective policy. Lastly, Dr. Early shares her vision for the Commission’s role in connecting data to policy to community to outcomes in order to drive more early intervention and prevention in mental health for the betterment of individuals, families and communities. 
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