I'm June Gruber, an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder and director of this mental health experts series. I'm here today with Dr. Steve Lopez, a Professor of Psychology and Director of clinical training at the University of Southern California about his work on culture, mental illness, families, and interventions. Thanks for being here today, Steve. It's my pleasure, June. Thank you for inviting me. I was wondering if you could start by just telling us a little bit about the kind of mental health research and work you do. Sure, I'd be happy to. My passion is to bring a cultural perspective to mental health research. I want to bring a cultural viewpoint that I think was lacking for the large part. Obviously, we made some significant inroads over the years, but focusing on intervention, focusing on studying psychopathology, and also studying assessment, and how to understand what is culture and how do we integrate our understanding of culture to really address the diverse folks that we work with and diverse folks that we study. How did you go about first getting started in this work? I think it goes back to a personal journey. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. We're Mexican-American, came to California, LA in 1971 as an undergraduate. People are asking me, what are you? What's your ethnicity? Are you a Chicano? Which was a new word for me. I struggled to figure out, am I mexicano? Am I Mexican? Am I Mexican-American, as our parents, our families, define ourselves in? That journey helped me identify what is ethnicity, what's culture in terms of my particular context. Also, after I graduated with a BA in psychology from Claremont Men's College, now Claremont McKenna College, I worked at La Frontera Mental Health Clinic in Tucson. The literature at that time was Mexican-Americans, Latinx, they didn't use the term then, don't use mental health services. But this mental health service was well utilized then. People had strong leaders [inaudible] Chavez, who ended working for Sampson, and directing Sampson under the Clinton Administrator, she hired me. Then also working at the Spanish-Speaking Health Research Center for a year before I entered graduate school. Seeing the clinical community side at La Frontera, and then seeing the research side at UCLA, and then [inaudible] funded research center really gave me a wonderful perspective to bridge those two perspectives. Since that starting point, as you mentioned, having this really powerful first-person perspective alongside the research experiences to the current day now, as a professor at USC, when you reflect over your career trajectory, what stands out here? Some of the notable frustrations or challenges, as well as success and you've savored along the way. Frustrations and challenges, there are many. It's hard to pinpoint one in particular or a handful. But I think one of the challenges is just to believe in oneself. I think that looking back, I fell short in a number of occasions to really believe in my ideas and what I was doing. Looking for external validation and sometimes maybe not getting it, or even getting papers rejected with poor justification, in my opinion. Certainly I persisted, and certainly I've come through and many occasions, but there are times that I could've had greater confidence in myself in moving forward and in getting projects. I'm sure we all have a lot of projects, some that you see through and others that aren't, you didn't see through, but I wish I could have seen through some of those projects. Maybe I lacked that self-confidence to push and persist. In terms of successes, when you mention successes, I think I'd say my greatest success is my four daughters and my wife of 44 years. Proudest of that, I think that's going to my biggest contribution to psychology. My kids and my grandkids, I have four grandsons. But in a similar vein, I ran an NIH funded a summer research training program in Mexico for 15 years. We had 131 students, largely undergraduates. Some graduates go through that program. To see some of these students now faculty members in places like De Paul and Utah state, and UC San Francisco. That certainly is a success. Obviously, there are many factors that led to their success, but bringing them to Mexico, working on research with a cohort of other largely Latino Latinx students was really rewarding experience. The fact that we learned in Pueblo, where my wife was born and visited her family, that was really a plus to combine the family and also the research and living in Mexico and [inaudible] summers was really special, so that was a success. Another success was some of the wonderful collaborations that I've been able to establish over the years, number of postdocs, I say graduate students, but also my biggest collaborator is Alex Copello. He's a psychiatrist in UCLA. We've done some great work together, I think, Linda Garland, anthropologist, UCLA. Those are two of many collaborators. Those are, I think, things that I really value. I love the theme that resonates through the successes, which is just they're interpersonal, they're successes with other people and about other people. Indeed. We have an opportunity to work hard, but we have an opportunity to select the people with whom we want to work hard with, not all the time, but most of the time. What do you see then looking ahead as some of the most important next steps in the field? Well, obviously with the murder of George Floyd, attention to structural racism, institutional racism, we've said that, we acknowledge that, and we've even written about that a little bit. I don't think I've used those words directly. But we have a long ways to go to really start addressing that and I think that's a major challenge. Another is really bringing racial, cultural, social perspective to clinical psychology. I think we're not as contextually based as a field and as a discipline. Obviously there are some researchers that are strong in this area. But as a field, I think we need to do a much better job. I think one way of doing that is to bring in more qualitative research. I'm a big believer in mixed methods and qualitative research can help us make those connections between the individual experience, the narratives, and also the social world. Doesn't have to all be qualitative, but I think it'll enrich in the work that we do. On the heels of that, the answer of really deepening our qualitative understanding of the very humans we're trying to understand, what advice would you have for other people who might be watching this interview today? Maybe they're students, public, other mental health professionals who are interested in and want to get engaged in the field. A couple thoughts. One is, right now in the study of psychosis, early psychosis is where it's at. We need to intervene early in people's lives. I've been fortunate at our recent one to get out the message about how you identify psychosis in Spanish-speaking Latino communities, and educating and forming them, initiating a conversation so they could get early treatment. So I would encourage folks listening to this to really think carefully that early psychosis is really an area that's getting a lot of attention and rightly so. NIMH, the states of the federal government are very invested in this. We could have a big impact in reducing the burden and suffering of mental illness if we intervened early with psychosis and it's such a challenging area. For example, a meta-analysis on duration of untreated psychosis show that the number of initiatives we've got pretty much a zero effect size and able to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis. So that's the first message and a second one, one that everybody hears all the time, but I'll repeat, is finding your passion. I was very fortunate that I was able to bring my reflections on where I fit in ethnically, culturally and then say, "Oh my God, I could bridge this interest in the study of psychology," I had a mentor who was willing to support me. I took one of the first Chicana studies classes at the Claremont Colleges that provide an academic space to say, the study of ethnicity, the study of culture is a valid academic enterprise. I was fortunate that I was able to follow my passion, but I also had the supports academically, professionally early on in my stage. So find your passion, look for those supports and trust yourself and confide in yourself that you can do something special and make a difference in this world. Thank you so much for such a powerful response and for taking the time to speak today. Thank you for asking me, Jim. I very much enjoy this. It's good to see you again.