iSPARC Mission

To conduct, disseminate, and support the use of research in the public mental health system to enhance services for people with behavioral health conditions that promote their recovery and improve their quality of life. Our work informs, advises, and involves individuals with lived mental health experience, their families, providers, administrators, and policymakers navigating the behavioral health landscape in the Commonwealth and beyond.

About our Mission

Our mission aligns with DMH’s mission to provide access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals of all ages, enabling them to live, work, and participate in their communities. DMH sets policy, promotes self-determination, protects human rights, and supports mental health training and research. This critical mission is accomplished by working in partnership with other state agencies, individuals, families, providers and communities.

DMH and iSPARC share a strong commitment to values that include:

  • supporting mental health through promoting recovery, empowerment, health and well-being, and person-centered and family-focused approaches
  • ensuring trauma-informed services
  • promoting accessibility of services and resources that recognize cultural and linguistic capacities
  • and emphasizing evidence-informed and evidence-based practices to ensure highest quality of care and service delivery
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Overview of Our Center

iSPARC visual identityOn October 1, 2018 the UMMS Department of Psychiatry was awarded the Research Center of Excellence for Public Mental Health Services & Implementation Research contract by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). With this award, the past DMH research center of excellence, the
Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center (SPARC), transformed to the Implementation Science and Practice Advances Research Center (iSPARC).

The new iSPARC builds on the demonstrated strengths of SPARC by:

  1. Adding investigators from the UMMS’s Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences (PQHS) and its matchless expertise in implementation science and engagement of underrepresented groups
  2. Adding investigators from Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and its 35+ years of implementation and services research focused on the recovery of adults with serious mental illness.

iSPARC Programs

The new iSPARC features four interacting “Programs”:

  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Public Mental Health and Implementation Research
  • Technical Assistance/Consultation and External Funding
  • Workforce Development

All programs have a focus on enhancing the diversity of our workforce and increasing the voices of underrepresented groups as research partners and relevance of the research to their lives. iSPARC is focusing on two activities done in partnership with DMH and its stakeholders:

  1. providing technical assistance (TA) and consultation
  2. conducting public mental health and implementation research

iSPARC faculity

iSPARC faculty are internationally recognized in:

  • psychosocial interventions development and implementation;
  • services and supports research;
  • multicultural issues;
  • clubhouse and vocational rehabilitation models;
  • wellness and mindfulness;
  • forensic/legal and human rights issues;
  • child, parent and family mental health issues;
  • perinatal mental health;
  • Deaf and hard of hearing mental health concerns;
  • transition age youth/young adults;
  • and co-occurring disorders.

We collaborate across UMMS Departments of Psychiatry, Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, Family Medicine and Community Health, Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Commonwealth Medicine, other UMass campuses, and other national and international institutions to optimize our resources and  relationships to build a bigger and stronger iSPARC to help meet the many challenges faced by DMH and its stakeholders.

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