APA/SAMHSA Fellowship for Lisette Rodriguez-Cabezas in Support of: APA/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Award

Project: Research project

Project Details


If anyone had asked me where I imagined I would be at this stage in life, I never
would have imagined that doing a Women’s Mental Health Fellowship at Northwestern
would have been part of the story. However, that’s exactly what I am about to embark
upon. I guess it’s not that hard to imagine when I recall all the painful moments that
involved my parents telling me how difficult my mother’s struggle with postpartum
depression and anxiety had been. I think I was destined for psychiatry from the moment I
realized why all of my pleading for a sibling had never resulted in my parents even
considering going through another pregnancy. It all made sense once I knew the truth and
I know that’s why I’ve made it my mission to never let another family question whether
they want to have a child for fear of this terrible illness. What made it especially difficult
for my family was all of the stigma surrounding mental illness in my Latino family and
our Latino neighborhood. No one could or would try to understand. That is why I am
seeking this fellowship – so that I can change how Latinas who are at risk for postpartum
depression get care and hopefully, prevent the illness before it even begins.
My membership in the APA has been a wonderful journey thus far. I have made
incredible friendships with colleagues I would have never encountered had it not been for
the Diversity Leadership Award. I am forever grateful for these amazing partnerships and
as fellows, we always push each other to work harder, be creative, and dream big. The
past two years as a Diversity Leadership fellow have allowed me to attend the APA
annual meeting, the IPS annual meetings, my council meetings, and I’ve been able to
collaborate with several fellows on at least 4-5 different workshops, posters, and several
projects. I have really enjoyed the conference calls as I was the informal secretary the
entire first year of my fellowship and I continue to volunteer for different roles almost
every chance I get. I was also able to be part of the Puerto Rico Mental Health Awareness
Tour that is now in its second year. I have made lifelong friendships and we continue to
collaborate together and I can see us all a few years down the road sitting on councils,
running for APA positions, or being on the executive board of a caucus.
Being a part of these fellowships has made me even more passionate about
advocacy, awareness, and outreach for underrepresented groups than I already was.
Research was never something I had much interest in but seeing all of the projects my
colleagues are working on has inspired me to also make a difference in the Latino
community in this way. I now realize that if you really want to impact a community, you
have to do the hard work involved in studying them in order to understand where the
problems lie and to be able to make an impact on resolving them. I see my specific area
of interest as a particularly disadvantaged and marginalized minority population because
not only are they Latino, but they are exclusively female and also pregnant. This group of
women is especially understudied and frequently does not get care as they are
automatically excluded from research due to their pregnancy status and even if they were
included, they often decline participation due to stigma. However, this makes this group
even more important to study and engage for the purposes of psychoeducation, treatment,
and reducing stigma. If given the opportunity and the funds to study them through the
fellowship, I’m sure my work will be a unique add
Effective start/end date7/1/167/31/17


  • American Psychiatric Association (Award Letter 4/5/16 // 5T06SM060562)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Award Letter 4/5/16 // 5T06SM060562)


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