Our Team

Community Based Children and Family Mental Health Services Research Program

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Marc Atkins PhD

  • Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
  • Director, Institute for Juvenile Research
  • Director, Community Engagement and Collaboration
  • Center for Clinical Translational Science
Dr. Atkins is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and Director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also directs the Dissemination and Implementation Research and Policy Program for UIC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research. He is a recipient of numerous grants from the NIMH and private foundations in the areas of childhood ADHD and aggression and community mental health services for children and families living in high poverty urban communities. His work has examined new models for mental health practice in urban communities to address long-standing disparities in mental health care. He is a frequent consultant to the Chicago Public Schools, as well as the Illinois Division of Mental Health and the Illinois State Board of Education and the Chicago Department of Health, on guidelines for school and community based mental health programs and practices.

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Tara G. Mehta PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology
  • Director of Psychology Training
Dr. Mehta is an Assistant 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
  • 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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Angela L. Walden PhD

  • Clinical Assistant Professor, Institute for Juvenile Research, Department of Psychiatry
  • Research Assistant Professor, Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science, Department of Medicine
Dr. Angela Walden is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Research Assistant Professor in the Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science in the Department of Medicine. She is also a Faculty Affiliate of the Community Engagement & Collaboration Core in UIC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Dr. Walden received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University and Master of Arts and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed her clinical internship and postdoctoral training at the Institute for Juvenile Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Walden provides clinical services through the Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic. Her training as a clinical-scientist and background in both clinical and community psychology informs her clinical approach; she utilizes empirically-supported models while also recognizing that clients’ cognitions and behaviors are influenced by individual-, family-, and social-level factors. Her theoretical orientation incorporates a multilevel understanding of mental health and intervention, rooted in cognitive-behavioral approaches.

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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 MA

  • Psychiatry Volunteer
Erika Gustafson is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 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. She has conducted qualitative and quantitate research with community health workers examining their processes of parental engagement, as well as with homeless youth examining their executive functioning. Her dissertation examines the relationship between social determinants of health and youth mental health by linking electronic medical record data with a range of neighborhood-level community data. Erika is also an active advocate for promoting diversity within the field, having served as co-chair of the Diversity Advancement Committee within her clinical program.

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Sarah Jolie BA

  • Research Associate

Sarah is a Clinical Psychology graduate student at Loyola University Chicago and a research assistant of the Partners Achieving Student Success (PASS) project. She joined the project to continue her research on the sustainability of school-based mental health intervention programs with Latino immigrant populations. Sarah received her B.A in Psychology from DePaul University in 2017.

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Jennifer Kurian

  • Research Associate