hero image
Ruth White - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work . Los Angeles, CA, US

Ruth White

Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Social Change and Innovation | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Los Angeles, CA, United-States

Dr. White specializes in bipolar disorder and maternal and child health.


Ruth White applies theoretical frameworks using analytics grounded in economics, sociology, public health and social welfare to solve complex problems related to personal and organizational development, social policy, social programs and inclusion/diversity.

White specializes in maternal and child health, community-based strategies, policy advocacy and mental health with a focus on bipolar disorder and mental health stigma. White has worked in health and social services in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, conducted research and practiced public health in Belize, Uganda and Jamaica.

For five years, she co-led Maama Omwaana, a community-based program for improving the maternal and child health outcomes for the community of Njeru (pop. 50,000) in Uganda that resulted in a tripling of use of maternity services in less than five years despite stagnant overall clinic attendance. White transferred the project to the local department of health, which still manages the program activities. Local leaders that emerged from this program are now part of the National Secretariat of the White Ribbon Alliance in Uganda.

Her professional services includes secretary of the board of directors of Health Alliance International, and she sits on the editorial board of the African Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health and the review boards of the American Journal of Health Behavior and the Journal of Social Work Education. She referees articles for many other journals and organizations, such as the American Public Health Association; Culture, Health and Sexuality; Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power; Journal of the National Medical Association and AIDS Care.

White's work has been featured in print, TV and radio, including the New York Times, PsychologyToday.com, Marie Claire, Woman's Day, Parent Map and in a popular social welfare policy text. She has hosted a policy-focused radio show, written magazine features and authored three well-received blogs. As an expert witness, she has worked with Yale, Columbia and New York University law schools, Sidley Austin LLP, and others. In 2014, White released her third book, Preventing Bipolar Relapse.

She teaches social policy, management and program evaluation in the Virtual Academic Center and serves as lead instructor on research and management courses and co-chair of the macro sequence of courses online.

Education (5)

University of California, Berkeley: PhD, Social Welfare 2002

University of California, Berkeley: MPH, Maternal & Child Health; International Health 1997

McGill University: MSW 1991

University of Ottawa: BSS, Sociology 1989

McGill University: BSW 1988

Areas of Expertise (1)

Community, Organization, and Business Innovation

Industry Expertise (2)

Education/Learning Research


Media Appearances (3)

Four Professors Find Purpose After Difficult Pasts

USC Trojan Family Magazine  online


"Though she was born in London and spent her teens and early 20s in Canada, Ruth C. White speaks with a lilting accent that is unmistakably Jamaican. So it was little wonder she felt drawn to the young Jamaican man named Everton who was her coworker at a trendy Ottawa clothing store. They became close friends..."

view more

Here’s What Hollywood Gets Wrong About Bipolar Disorder



"What’s important about the Andre’s bipolar plotline, per Dr. Ruth C. White, Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California, is that he is presented as a highly ambitious and active person whose achievements aren’t extraordinarily hindered by him coping with this illness..."

view more

How Accurate Is Empire’s Treatment of Bipolar Disorder?

Slate  online


" Ruth C. White, a regular Empire viewer and author of Preventing Bipolar Relapse, points out his impulse buy of a brand new Lamborghini (at the same time that Empire is in a potentially dire financial crisis) as a key instance of him in a manic state..."

view more

Articles & Publications (2)

Focus Group and Health Teaching With Traditional Birth Attendants in Njeru, Uganda International Journal of Childbirth


The Safe Motherhood Initiative identifies the presence of skilled birth attendants at delivery as the single most critical intervention for safe motherhood. This article reports the findings from a focus group with traditional birth attendants (TBAs) conducted at the request of the Namwezi Health Center and the Njeru town council in Uganda as part of a community needs assessment. The purposes of the ...

view more

Strategies for increasing utilization of maternity services in Njeru, Uganda African Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health


This paper describes the success of an ongoing community-based maternal and child health project in Njeru, Uganda. The project is a collaboration between the Njeru Town Council and an American university's social work programme and College of Nursing. The goal of the programme is to increase utilization of clinic-based maternity services ie prenatal care and skilled attendant at delivery. Using ...

view more