Our Team

Community Based Children and Family Mental Health Services Research Program

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Marc S. Atkins PhD

  • Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
Dr. Atkins is a licensed clinical psychologist and Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and past Director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He developed and led the internship in clinical psychology for the Department of Psychiatry for two decades and has mentored numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on career development awards and postdoctoral fellowships. He currently directs the Community Engagement and Collaboration core for UIC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. He is the recipient of numerous grants from the NIMH and private foundations examining new models for mental health practice in urban communities to address long-standing disparities in mental health care for children and families living in high poverty urban communities. He currently is Co-PI with Dr. Tara Mehta on a grant from the NIMH studying community health worker navigation into mental health services for urban children and families. He is active in public policy, including as a consultant to the Chicago Public Schools, the Illinois Division of Mental Health, and the Illinois State Board of Education on guidelines for school and community based mental health programs and practices, and to Chief Judge Timothy Evans of the Cook County Circuit Court on behavioral health programming for Restorative Justice Courts.

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Tara G. Mehta PhD

  • Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
  • Director of Psychology Training
Dr. Mehta is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of Psychology Training in the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  The central theme of Dr. Mehta’s work is to reduce the persistent disparities in access to mental health services for ethnic minority children and families. Dr. Mehta's work is based in an ecological public health model and she conducts community-based collaborative research focused on (1) developing culturally responsive, alternative models of mental health services for children and youth and (2) workforce development to enhance the capacity of community organizations to sustain accessible, effective services that enhance children’s and youth's well-being and promote mental health. Dr. Mehta is part of a team that has developed new mental health service models that promote children’s mental health and increase the accessibility, effectiveness, and sustainability of children’s mental health services.  Her specific interests include leveraging natural resources (teachers, staff) in settings critical to children’s development and mental health (school, after-school), activating paraprofessionals to promote and enhance services, and enhancing organizational factors that are crucial to maintain and sustain effective practices. Dr. Mehta has collaborated with multiple partners in Chicago, including the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, community mental health centers, and non-profit organizations.

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Dana Rusch PhD

  • Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychiatry
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Institute for Juvenile Research, Department of Psychiatry
  • Director, Immigrant Family Mental Health Advocacy Program
Dr. Rusch is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of the Immigrant Family Mental Health Advocacy Program at the Institute for Juvenile Research. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed her pre-doctoral clinical training at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and post-doctoral training at the Institute for Juvenile Research at UIC. She founded the Immigrant Family Mental Health Advocacy Program to focus on research-practice-policy partnerships that address the mental health needs of immigrant and refugee children and families through: (a) direct clinical services for immigrant children and families, UIC students coping with immigration-related stressors, and unaccompanied youth and asylum seekers; (b) undergraduate teaching and clinical education for trainees in child psychology, psychiatry, and social work; (c) community-engaged research that supports the work and mission of community-based organizations, and (d) active involvement in local and national advocacy and policy work. Her work is guided by an ecological public health framework to develop models of mental health promotion that elevate the unique contributions of non-specialty service settings and the critical role of non-traditional providers. Dr. Rusch actively participates in local advocacy efforts via several committee appointments and collaborative coalition work in support of immigrant communities. She is also a member of the Community Engagement and Collaboration Core for UIC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

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Reshma Shah MD

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UIC
Dr. Shah is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at UIC. She received her M.D. at Wayne State University School of Medicine. She completed her fellowship in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at University of Chicago and pediatric residency at Lurie Children's Hospital. She is currently the Director of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at University of Illinois at Chicago where she conducts diagnostic evaluations and provides medical treatment for children with developmental, behavioral, and learning challenges including children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, and learning disorders. Her research aims to reduce poverty-related developmental and educational disparities by developing, testing and disseminating primary care-based strategies that improve early child development. She is the principal investigator of a career development award from the National Institutes of Health and has also received funding from Maternal Child Health Bureau, The Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, and UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science to support her work.

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Roberto Bustos MD

  • Bariatric Surgery Research Fellow, Department of Surgery

Roberto Bustos is a research fellow in the Department of Surgery, Division of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery. He received his medical degree from Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Argentina and is currently in his third year in a General Surgery Residency program in Clinica Francesa, which is a clinic located in Mendoza, Argentina.

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Grace Cua MSW

  • Research Specialist
Grace Cua is a Research Specialist in the Department of Psychiatry and Graduate Student in the Educational Psychology program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on service use, sustainability, and cost effectiveness of alternative models for mental health services, specifically for undeserved children and families. Her most recent research project examines service use and the predictors of early engagement of a paraprofessional led home visiting program. She also is an Adjunct Lecturer at Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC. Grace received her B.A. in Psychology from UIC (2010) and her MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC (2014).

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Erika L. Gustafson PhD, MA

  • Postdoctoral Research Volunteer
Erika L. Gustafson, PhD is a postdoctoral research volunteer at UIC’s Institute for Juvenile Research, and a postdoctoral fellow at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Gustafson completed her doctoral training at UIC and her predoctoral clinical internship at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Broadly, her research focuses on community-based interventions to promote healthy psychological development for children and families in communities of urban poverty. Her specific research interests include broadening the boundaries of mental health treatment through a focus on upstream ecological factors impacting mental health (i.e. the social determinants of health), non-traditional service providers such as community health workers, community settings such as schools and community organizations, and Latinx mental health.

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Melanie Tran BA

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Melanie Tran is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Broadly, her research aims to reduce disparities in access to mental health services for marginalized communities and to utilize a community-based, public health approach to promote youth mental health and resilience. Her specific research interests include enhancing youth mental health and positive development in settings natural and accessible to children and families, such as schools, recreational programs, and community organizations; building capacity in youth-serving organizations and workforces to sustainably deliver effective services; and promoting mental health in ethnic minority and immigrant communities through culturally responsive practices.

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Viviana Uribe BA

  • Research Associate
Viviana Uribe is a Research Associate in the ACCESS for Mental Health Lab where she assists on data collection for the research on Patient Navigators for Children’s Community Mental Health Services in High Poverty Urban Communities. Prior to joining the ACCESS for Mental Health team, Viviana worked as a Post- baccalaureate in the Psychology department at UIC as a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate psychology courses and a research assistant in the CHAT Lab. She also volunteered in the ART Lab. She received a BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she majored in Psychology and minored in Latin American and Latino Studies and Gender and Women Studies.

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Vania Atilano

  • Psychiatry Volunteer, Immigrant Family Mental Health Advocacy Program
Vania Atilano is currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology expected to graduate in May 2020.

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