Rehabilitation & Recovery

Program Description

Individuals diagnosed with mental illness are at greater risk for social isolation and reduced community integration, unemployment or reduced rates of employment, homelessness, physical health problems and early mortality, dropout from school or college, substance use or misuse, involvement with the justice system, and suicide.

Our efforts focus on examining issues critical to the promotion of recovery and quality of life of individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness so they may achieve full community integration. Rehabilitation, recovery and wellness researchers have a diverse portfolio of nationally and internationally-based studies that will improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness and their families.

We are interested in:

  • Engaging mental health consumers and providers in the design and dissemination of our research and training efforts
  • Improving access to vocational rehabilitation supports and community-based employment
  • Modifying and implementing health promotion and wellness opportunities to reduce mortality and improve the physical health of individuals diagnosed with mental illness
  • Developing and disseminating education and training materials and curricula to public safety personnel, clinicians, educators, and direct service providers to prevent suicide
  • Evaluating evidence-based community services such as the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation
  • Translating knowledge gained from research to policy and real-world practice to improve the lives of individuals affected by mental illness
Colleen McKay ImageColleen Mckay, M.A., C.A.G.S.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Barry Feldman ImageBarry Feldman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Jeffrey Geller ImageJeffrey Geller, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry
David Smelson ImageDavid Smelson, Psy.D.
Professor of Psychiatry


Ongoing Research Projects

Adapting Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy for Soldiers in Post-Deployment

Title: Adapting Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy for Soldiers in Post-Deployment
5/15/2014 - 4/30/2017
Funder: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Funding: $3386,423
Co-PI: David Smelson, Psy.D.

Description: This project seeks to adapts and test a well-established civilian Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT) approach to meet the unique needs and challenges facing returning service members from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND). ABCT-Military will deliver existing core sets of (a) abstinence-based, alcohol-related interventions, and (b) couple interventions, but with adaptations to make the treatment palatable and relevant to post-deployment service members. Four new optional models will be developed to address issues exacerbated by and aggravating problem drinking among soldiers and their families following return from theater. The modules are designed to help couples cope with symptoms of: 1. Intimate Partner Violence; 2. Depression; 3. PTSD, and 4.TBI.

MISSION Forward (Maintaining Independence & Sobriety through Systems Integration)

Title: MISSION Forward (Maintaining Independence & Sobriety through Systems Integration)
9/11/2013 - 6/30/2016
Funder: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
Funding: $419,264
PI: David Smelson, Psy.D.

Description: MISSION Forward will serve180 clients (120 clients in the Quincy Adult Drug Court and 60 clients in the Dedham Veterans Treatment Court) who will receive MISSION services for up to one year. The project focuses on two types of specialty courts and will embed peer and case manager teams who will use an evidence-based wraparound model previously developed with SAMHSA funding to specifically improve coordinatin between the courts, clients, and community-based treatment providers.

Improving Outcomes for Homeless Veterans with Peer Support

Title: Improving Outcomes for Homeless Veterans with Peer Support
12/1/2012 - 11/1/2016
Funder: Veterans Administration
Funding: $1,100,000
PI: Marsha Ellison, Ph.D.

Description: This project is a multi-site randomized controlled trial of delivering peer support to homeless veterans with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse. Using a manualized peer support intervention available in the MISSION-VET Consumer Workbook this project aims to improve housing retention and community functioning by reducing substance use and relapse among 200 veterans in Bedford, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Personnel: David Smelson, Psy.D. (Co-I)

Bridges to Health Information for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Title: Bridges to Health Information for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Co-PI’s: Kathleen Biebel, Ph.D., Elaine Martin, D.A.

Funding: NIH/NLM

Budget: $299,794

Time Frame: 4/1/2015 – 4/30/2018

In October 2015, the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) was awarded grant funding from the National Library of Medicine to transform the existing UMMS eMentalHealth web site into a dynamic, interactive, wide-reaching eHealth resource for individuals with SMI. The eMental Health Bridges project will promote health literacy by developing, testing, and implementing:

  1. eMH4me training modules to provide guidance for individuals with SMI on web-based information searching, judging source and site credibility, and interpreting data; and
  2. web site prototypes that will serve as a connection to essential physical health information for individuals living with SMI. eMental Health Bridges will embrace user experience and design accommodations required for individuals with SMI to benefit fully from eHealth resources.

Over a three-year period, the eMental Health Bridges project team will work closely with individuals with SMI at each stage of the redesign process. Specific aims of eMH Bridges include:

  1. Making strategic recommendations for eMH web site redesign including the eMH4me training modules and the eMH Bridges prototype;
  2. Conducting usability testing to develop fully functional web-based training modules and prototypes; and
  3. Conducting remote testing of the acceptability and feasibility of the eMH4me training modules and eMH Bridges prototypes. 

To learn more download:

eMental Health Bridges Project: A Web Site Development Project to Provide Needed Mental and Physical Health Information to People with Serious Mental Illness

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