The Evolved Man of the Week: Henry Willis

Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, Henry Willis.

Willis’ graduate research inspired him to find an innovative way to help Black youth cope with stress and discrimination through technology. Willis described the app as not only providing a gateway for promoting better mental health but also offering users ways to deal with things unique to the Black experience.

One significant trend is that mobile-health apps have been on the rise, and this is where he saw an opening to develop something more profound and beneficial.

This mental health app will cover a broad scope of things, but it is currently in the development stage. The first version will be on a website, but it will function like the final product, which will be a mobile app. Once they have enough data, Willis and the people helping him develop the app plan to do a pilot test and then export it to the Apple Store. He hopes to launch the app in summer 2019.

It will also connect users to Black and other providers of color in the area. For Black youth, this is huge, because it can be really awkward to try talking about mental health to a white provider who you feel may not relate to.

Willis’ idea for a mental health app focusing on Black youth is definitely needed. It’s also an example of how to start conversations by reaching people where they’re at, like on their phones.

Willis understands the intersection of racism, technology, mental health, and youth. Here is Henry Willis in his own words:

“I’ve published papers that have looked at how things such as online racial discrimination can lead to increased PTSD symptoms, or how positive racial identity beliefs can lead to better mental health over time, for African American youth.”

We wish Mr. Henry Willis much more success and that his innovative ideas will be able to help black youth in need. Today we honor Henry Willis as our Evolved Man of the Week.


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