Hort­ensia Amaro, director of North­eastern University’s Insti­tute on Urban Health Research (IUHR), in part­ner­ship with the Boston Public Health Com­mis­sion (BPHC) and the Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Public Health (MDPH), received fed­eral grants totaling $6.8 mil­lion. The awards will fund projects to develop and eval­uate novel approaches to sub­stance abuse treat­ment pro­grams for men and women, and eval­uate new mental health ser­vices for chil­dren from birth to eight years old in Massachusetts.

Addi­tion­ally, Dolores Acevedo-​​Garcia, the new asso­ciate director of the insti­tute, is leading a $2 mil­lion research project, funded by the W. K. Kel­logg Foun­da­tion, which will enable researchers to chart racial and ethnic equity in U.S. met­ro­pol­itan areas.

Amaro will serve as the prin­cipal inves­ti­gator on two of the projects inves­ti­gating inno­v­a­tive models of care for men and women dealing with sub­stance abuse. She will act as an eval­u­ator on the third project, to assess novel approaches to treating mental health issues in young chil­dren in Mass­a­chu­setts. The Sub­stance Abuse and Mental Health Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (SAMHSA), a public health agency within the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, is funding all three projects.

This funding is absolutely crit­ical to pro­vide effec­tive ser­vices for vul­ner­able res­i­dents dealing with mental health and sub­stance abuse issues,” said Dr. Bar­bara Ferrer, the BPHC’s exec­u­tive director. “Dr. Amaro and North­eastern Uni­ver­sity have been at the fore­front of new research and pro­grams and we look for­ward to again part­nering with them on these impor­tant issues.”

A five-​​year, $4.4 mil­lion grant will sup­port the work of Project LAUNCH, part of an MDPH pro­gram to deliver improved behav­ioral and mental health care to at-​​risk chil­dren and their fam­i­lies. Devel­oping a col­lab­o­ra­tion between two com­mu­nity health cen­ters and a hos­pital pri­mary care clinic, the pro­gram will deter­mine how pedi­atric med­ical homes can best help chil­dren at risk for early child­hood mental health issues.

A three-​​year, $1.2 mil­lion SAMHSA grant will fund the second project, the Boston Con­sor­tium of Ser­vices for Men in Recovery, which will focus on the cre­ation of a recovery-​​oriented system of care to help Latino and African– Amer­ican males with a his­tory of sub­stance abuse and mental health issues. The project will increase access to high-​​quality, community-​​based out­pa­tient sub­stance abuse treat­ment services.

The Safe and Sound Return project, sup­ported by a three-​​year, $1.2 mil­lion SAMHSA grant, will help tran­si­tion women back into the com­mu­nity after incar­cer­a­tion. The project will expand sub­stance abuse treat­ment and health pro­grams for this at-​​risk pop­u­la­tion. In addi­tion, Northeastern’s Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion will pro­vide entre­pre­neur­ship training for the women involved in this program.

There is a tremen­dous oppor­tu­nity here to develop and test effec­tive ser­vice delivery approaches for men and women to over­come obsta­cles and become active, involved mem­bers of their com­mu­nity,” said Amaro. “By pro­viding ser­vices to help them con­quer sub­stance abuse, as well as offering job place­ment and other med­ical ser­vices, these indi­vid­uals will have a better chance of suc­cess. Through these projects, we hope to con­tribute to the knowl­edge base on addic­tion treat­ment as well as to pro­vide much needed ser­vices to these populations.”

The goal of Acevedo-Garcia’s project, called Diver­si­ty­Data, is to track the quality of life in urban areas and pro­vide pol­i­cy­makers in those areas the data nec­es­sary for them to make the best deci­sions for pop­u­la­tions at risk, including children.

Other researchers from North­eastern involved in the projects include Mar­ilyn Ahl, Joanna Almeida and Sheryl Mendlinger. North­eastern grad­uate fel­lows at the IUHR will also have oppor­tu­ni­ties to work on the projects and gain fur­ther research skills.

To learn about Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, please visit http://​www​.north​eastern​.edu/​b​o​u​ve/