Putting It Together: Social Justice and Inclusion | Podcast

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In this episode, we talk with Dr. Akansha Vaswani-Bye and Sarah Fikre about their experiences, career paths thus far and what inspires and motivates them to keep pushing for a more equitable landscape in the mental health field. They also discuss how the Social Justice and Inclusion track in the Mental Health Institute will help providers understand that by taking a Social Justice and Inclusion approach to mental health care, we can challenge disparities and inequities in order to provide the most effective and culturally appropriate care for our patients. Listen to learn about the available sessions in the Social Justice and Inclusion Track, how Akansha and Sarah became involved in this work, and what their hopes are for the Mental Health Institute.


Akansha Vaswani-Bye, PhD

Dr. Vaswani-Bye

Akansha Vaswani Bye, PhD, is an Acting Assistant Professor in the SPIRIT Lab (stands for Supporting Psychosis Innovation through Research, Implementation and Training) at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She grew up in Mumbai and her first learnings as a professional came from individuals and families navigating developmental disabilities. Early in her career, she was introduced to the principles of family-centered care, early intervention, and community-based advocacy. Her interest in narrative practices and systemic change has been at the forefront as she moved into spaces as a researcher, clinician, consultant, and trainer. Her doctoral work focused on drivers of institutional corruption in psychiatry and solutions for reform, particularly the practice of deprescribing and rational prescribing grounded in informed consent. Her current research and implementation work is focused on supporting communities impacted by psychosis, building the family peer workforce, and developing and disseminating culturally responsive principles and practices. She is particularly interested in non-pathologizing interventions and interventions that account for the impact of structural and social determinants of health. Currently, her clinical work is located at the Madison Clinic, a primary care clinic for people living with HIV/AIDS. 


Sarah Fikre

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Sarah is a Research Study Coordinator in the SPIRIT Lab, primarily working with Dr. Vaswani-Bye in supporting the newly launched Mental Health Institute. Before joining the SPIRIT Lab, she worked as a Research Assistant at the Icahn School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, supporting an ongoing NIH-funded research study investigating the effects of supermarket discounts on shopping, food intake, body weight, and health status. She received her BA in Psychology at Columbia University in 2022 and plans to apply to medical school with the hopes of becoming a Psychiatrist and improving mental health outcomes of underserved communities.



Christina N. Clayton, LICSW, SUDP, Northwest MHTTC Co-Director

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Christina Clayton has been working in the behavioral health field since 1993 working with people and programs addressing severe mental health issues, substance use, co-occurring issues, chronic homelessness, integrated care, outreach, physical health, trauma and diversity/equity/inclusion topics. Christina has education and licenses/credentials in clinical social work, mental health and substance use.  She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor and Field Instructor for the University of Washington School of Social Work (MSW ’97).  Learn more about MHTTC Staff & Faculty




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