- Anne Rufa, PhD
- Evelyn Coker, LCSW
- Harold Pollack, PhD
Research Project Description
Access to mental health services is limited by many barriers that disproportionately affect communities with the greatest need, such as those on the West Side of Chicago. Although these neighborhoods tend to experience the greatest hardship and toxic stress, they also have the fewest resources, particularly those aimed at addressing mental health concerns. In response, our team plans to address the topic of “Clinical practice, social services, and health” by leveraging existing programs within the West Side communities to establish a seamless continuum of care. Specifically, the intervention to be studied will build upon the I AM ABLE Center for Family Development’s TRIM (Trauma Response and Intervention Movement) model. In this model, community members are trained to be block leaders in 8-Block sectors, going door-to-door engaging their neighbors and linking them to resources. Within this project we will provide additional training to block leaders in basic cognitive behavioral skills to provide additional support to community members. We will also engage community organizations in a linked continuum of care that will provide services to those along the range of minimal to severe mental health needs, assessing the efficacy of improved access to mental health services. Our aim is to ensure that all community members in need are directed to the appropriate level of care. Using the strengths of our team members, we will collaborate to answer the following research questions: 1) Is it feasible to train lay community members to provide evidence-based interventions to address mental health needs in their communities? 2) Does creating a continuum of care across organizations decrease dropped referrals, increase access to care, and effectively funnel community members to the appropriate level of care? 3) Do these initiatives have an impact on behavioral health outcomes and a positive impact on related community-level variables? To answer these questions, we will assess the feasibility and acceptability of training, service provision and linkage using quality improvement measures, implementation and outcomes, and related publicly accessible community-level variables. Findings will be disseminated to stakeholders and policy makers to encourage improved and sustainable methods of providing mental health support in low-resource neighborhoods to decrease health disparities and promote population health.
Anne Rufa, PhD
Dr. Rufa is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the Section for Population Behavioral Health at Rush University Medical Center. Her background is in Clinical and Community Psychology, with research and clinical interests focused on interpersonal trauma and best practices in serving marginalized populations.
Evelyn Coker, LCSW
Ms. Coker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with extensive experience in academic, residential, social service, and community mental health settings. She is passionate about creating culturally competent services for youth and families, as well as participating in research that contributes to best practices for youth in the juvenile justice system.
Harold Pollack, PhD
Dr. Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He is also an Affiliate Professor in the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division and the Department of Public Health Sciences and Co-Director of The University of Chicago Health Lab and University of Chicago Crime Lab. He has published widely at the interface between poverty policy and public health.