Parents & Families

Program Description

Front-line professionals can serve a key role in treatment of mental illness in parents and children and in mitigating the impact of parental mental illness on child development and behavior.

Through the use of evidence-based research and training programs we strive to increase the knowledge and skills of physicians, attorneys, law enforcement, school and court personnel and the systems they work in.

We focus on:

  • Research and training to improve the identification and management of depression in pregnant and postpartum women
  • Research and training to improve the identification and assessment of trauma in children
  • Research, intervention development, and training to improve outcomes and enhance recovery of parents with mental illness
Research Bar
griffin_research_thumbNancy Byatt, D.O., M.B.A.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Obstetrics and Gynecology
biebel_research_thumb Kathleen Biebel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
wenz_gross_research_thumbMelodie Wenz Gross, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
griffin_research_thumb Jessica Griffin, Psy.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Pediatrics
 Joanne Nicholson, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry


Ongoing Research Projects

The University of Massachusetts Child Trauma Training Center

Title: The University of Massachusetts Child Trauma Training Center
9/30/2012 - 9/29/2016
Funder: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Funding: $1,597,310
PI: Jessica Ludy Griffin, Psy.D.
Description: To improve identification of trauma and increase trauma sensitive care and access to evidence based trauma treatment for at risk and underserved populations in Central and Western Massachusetts, including Court-involved children and military families by:

1. Developing, enhancing and strengthening the abilities of pediatricians, school personnel, law enforcement, and juvenile court personnel; 2. Creation of a Centralized Referral System and; 3. Providing training to clinicians in Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).

see also

Personnel: Lisa Fortuna, M.D.,(Co-I), Melodie Wenzgross, Ph.D.(Co-I), Thomas Grisso, Ph.D.(Co-I)

Rapid Access to Psychiatric Care in Perinatal Depression Programs (RAPPID)

Title: Rapid Access to Psychiatric Care in Perinatal Depression Programs (RAPPID)
9/30/2015 - 6/30/2018
Funder: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Funding: $2,499,996
PI: Nancy Byatt, D.O., M.B.A.

Description: Development and evaluation of a program to improve delivery of depression care in obstetric settings. 

The primary goal of this U01 proposal is to refine, evaluate, and disseminate a new low-cost and sustainable stepped care program for Obstetrics/Gynecology (Ob/Gyn) clinics that will improve perinatal women’s treatment rates and outcomes. Ob/Gyn clinics need supports in place to adequately address depression in their patient populations. Thus, we developed and pilot tested the Rapid Access to Perinatal Psychiatric Care in Depression (RAPPID) Program, to create a comprehensive intervention that is proactive, multifaceted, and practical. RAPPID aims to improve perinatal depression treatment and treatment response rates through:

  1. access to immediate resource provision/referrals and psychiatric telephone consultation for Ob/Gyn providers;
  2. clinic-specific implementation of stepped care, including training support and toolkits; and,
  3. proactive treatment engagement, patient monitoring, and stepped treatment response to depression screening/assessment.

RAPPID builds on a low-cost and widely disseminated population-based model for delivering psychiatric care in primary care settings developed by our team. Formative data and feedback from key stakeholders also informed the development of RAPPID. Our pilot work in real-world settings suggests RAPPID is feasible and improves depression detection and treatment in Ob/Gyn settings. Because it uses existing infrastructure and resources, RAPPID, has the potential to be feasible, sustainable and transportable to other practice settings. We propose to compare two active interventions, RAPPID vs. enhanced usual care (access to resource provision/referrals and psychiatric telephone consultation) in a cluster-randomized trial in which we will randomize 12 Ob/Gyn clinics to either RAPPID or enhanced usual care. We will compare the effectiveness of RAPPID vs. enhanced usual care to improve depression severity and treatment participation in pregnancy through 12 months postpartum among 300 patients (n=150/group, 25/clinic).

We will then disseminate findings and recommendations via a multi-dimensional dissemination strategy to facilitate national uptake. Our established relationships with stakeholders boosts the potential for widespread dissemination and implementation of RAPPID. Our combined expertise in the integration of obstetric and depression care, cluster-randomized trials and Ob/Gyn make us ideally suited to implement, test and widely disseminate RAPPID. If proven effective, RAPPID will be poised for national dissemination.

PRogram in Support of Mothers (PRISM): An Innovative Stepped-Care Approach for Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics

Title: PRogram in Support of Mothers (PRISM): An Innovative Stepped-Care Approach for Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics

Dates: 9/30/2015 - 9/329/2020

Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Funding: $2,499,000

Co-PIs: Jeroan J Allison, Ph.D., Tiffany A. Moore Simas, M.D., M.P.H.

Co-Is: Kathleen Biebel, Ph.D., Linda Weinreb, M.D.

Description: A randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of an integrated, home-based, intensive antisocial behavior, mental health, and substance use intervention for 17-21 year olds with serious mental illness and justice system involvement. The experimental intervention, Multisystemic Therapy for Emerging Adults (MST-EA), is an adaptation of the well-established intervention Multisystemic Therapy that is effective in reducing delinquency in minors. Previous research established that MST-EA is safe for use with 17-21 year olds and had encouraging pilot study findings for reducing recidivism, mental health symptoms, and influence of antisocial peers, and positive engagement in young adult activities of enrolling in school and working. The trial will enroll 240 individuals who will be randomized to MST-EA or Enhanced Treatment as Usual (control group). The control group will receive individualized reviews of services they want/need and facilitated connection to those services, as well as travel vouchers for services. The repeated measures design will track outcomes from baseline to 16 months post baseline. The trial is taking place in the greater New Haven and Hartford Connecticut.

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