Biography

Melba A. Hernandez-Tejada PhD, DHA is currently an associate professor for the UTHealth Trauma and Resilience Center (TRC) in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences , and a Research Scientist at the Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Charleston, SC. She joins the Department after having served as a Research Associate Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Dr. Hernandez-Tejada holds doctoral degrees in Health Administration (Medical University of South Carolina) and Clinical & Health Psychology (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Health Disparities at MUSC. Her past research focused on physiological and psychological aspects of stress reactions and the relationship of these reactions to developing chronic illnesses, such as Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes. This background informed her current work on access to, and engagement with services for both physical and mental health conditions. Specifically, Dr. Hernandez Tejada is researching the benefits of social connection and social support on mental health, while leveraging technology to address barriers to care, particularly among vulnerable groups. She has applied this work to two primary populations: Veterans suffering from PTSD and older adults confronted with issues that affect their ability to age in place (e.g., elder abuse). Funding for these endeavors has come from the Violence Against Women and Victims of Crime Act funding programs, as well as from the Department of Defense. In addition to this cutting-edge research with Veterans and Older adults, Dr. Hernandez-Tejada has engaged in practice-level efforts where she is raising awareness among providers regarding adequate screening, identification, diagnosis and referral of elder mistreatment survivors, coupled with training and provision of evidence-based treatment options for elder abuse victims. She collaborated and consulted regularly with State and local entities in SC, such as the City of Charleston Office on Aging and the Center on Aging at the Medical University of South Carolina. She was an original consulting member responsible for the creation of the Elder Court in South Carolina; consulting for Futures Without Violence; has had her work in elder abuse featured in national websites and newsletters by the National Center on Elder Abuse; and has participated in international expert meetings on behalf of the World Health Organization/ United Nations Women Joint Programme in addressing elder abuse and violence against older women. She is currently interested in increasing collaborative efforts through inter-professional, multilevel and integrative approaches to treating both Veterans and Older Adults suffering from mental health conditions, and the impact these conditions have on social interaction, aging in place, and physical health.

Education

Doctoral Degree (PhD)
Clinical & Health Psychology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Doctoral Degree (DHA)
Health Administration, Medical University of South Carolina
Postdoctoral Scholar
Health Disparities, Medical University of South Carolina
Masters Degree
Psychology, Simon Bolivar University
Clinical Training
Clinical Psychology, Central University of Venezuela

Areas of Interest

Clinical Interests

Evidence-based Treatments of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Anxiety
Depression
PTSD, Anxiety and Depression in Older Adults and Veterans


Research Interests

Elder Abuse
PTSD
Veterans Mental Health
Telehealth