African American youth are more likely to experience adversities including abuse, neglect, and racial trauma and discrimination. These youth also are less likely to initiate and engage in mental health treatment, and when they do, they are less likely to complete and to benefit from clinical interventions, and more likely to suffer disproportionate consequences of maladaptive adjustment. Conversely, there are protective processes that naturally occur within African American family that can be used to strengthen relationships, prevent abuse, combat the effects of racial stressors, improve engagement and outcomes in mental health services, and reduce risk for future engagement in risk behaviors.
As Director of The EMPOWER Lab, Dr. Isha Metzger focuses on "Engaging Minorities in Prevention, Outreach, Wellness, Education, & Research" at the University of Georgia. Within this context, The EMPOWER Lab aims to reduce mental health disparities through increasing engagement in mental health treatment, community outreach, education and training, and research focusing on the Black community. Specifically, Dr. Metzger is interested in preventing engagement in risky behaviors (e.g., sexual activity, alcohol use, delinquency) as well as understanding risk and resilience factors (e.g., trauma experiences, racial socialization and racial discrimination, family and peer relationships) that impact the relation between trauma exposure and problematic outcomes (e.g., STI/HIV exposure, unintended pregnancies, revictimization, drunk-driving accidents, legal system involvement). Dr. Metzger is also engaged in translational research including the conceptualization, implementation, dissemination, and evaluation of prevention programming aimed at reducing mental health and health disparities among African American youth.