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URMC / Psychiatry / Culture / Community Engagement

Community Engagement

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Partnering with community organizations in the Greater Rochester area and beyond

We aim to advocate for and deliver accessible, quality behavioral health service, assist medical care of the psychiatrically vulnerable population and enhance ongoing educational and research partnerships with local community organizations in the Greater Rochester area. Our department's extensive community engagement and collaboration tradition have expanded exponentially over the last five years through our faculty and staff's concerted and innovative efforts.

Our department has continued to partner with local schools, court systems, and nonprofit service providers. Our department participates in and creates multidisciplinary care teams, community education webinars, and county-wide initiatives to reduce healthcare inequities and provide care to historically underrepresented community stakeholders such as the deaf and Spanish-speaking populations.

Biopsychosocial Innovations in Community Partnerships
URMC Department of Psychiatry | 75th Anniversary Webinar Series

Our Community partners expand over the Department of Psychiatry's 4 core missions.

Education & Training Collaborations

The Behavioral Health Integration Annual Symposium features nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field of suicide prevention and substance use. 

The presentations from the 2021 University of Rochester Behavioral Health Integration Symposium: Substance Use, Suicide Prevention, and Public Health are available as educational modules through the Center for Experiential Learning.

View educational modules through CEL

illustration of women working on puzzle of brain

Each Youth Project ECHO is designed to provide specialty training for school teams to support youth behavioral needs. It is an interactive, web-based telementoring model to facilitate case consultation, learning sessions, and peer support. 

ECHO Geriatric Mental Health in Long-Term Care (GEMH) OMH aims to increase long-term care clinicians' skills, knowledge, and self-efficacy in managing older adults with behavioral health and dementia care needs.

Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center ECHO for Geriatrics and Mental Health in Long-Term Care aims to increase long-term care clinicians' skills, knowledge, and self-efficacy in managing older adults with behavioral health and dementia care needs.

School-based Project ECHO for Eating Disorders provides K-12 school personnel with case-based learning and multidisciplinary consultation services through the Western NY Comprehensive Care Center For Eating Disorders (WNYCCCED).

UR-SOS Project ECHO transforms the way education and knowledge are delivered. This telementoring model supports case-based learning and provides specialized training for education professionals supporting teens with serious behavioral health needs. 

Learn more about current URMC ECHO Programs

Project ECHO URMC Logo

The Expanded School Mental Health (ESMH) initiative allows schools to expand their behavioral health capacity through enhanced staffing, training, resources, skills, and knowledge through school-community partnerships. This partnership will enable students and families to come to our school-based offices for counseling services, where we offer a variety of effective therapies and programs that support children’s emotional and behavioral wellness and address family life challenges.  Services provided include, but are not limited to, behavioral and parenting concerns, adjustment issues during family transition and stress, treatment of anxiety and depression, and other mental health concerns. 

Learn more about ESMH

Expanded School Mental Health Chart

Opioid overdose prevention training is designed for patients, families, medical personnel, and community members interested in helping save lives. All attendees will receive an overdose prevention kit mailed to the address provided when a person registers. 

Learn More about the training

Narcan package for overdose prevention

Mental Health Community Conversations are sponsored by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and hosted by the Department of Psychiatry.  They provide a way for the Rochester community discussion various mental health topics with faculty from the Department of Psychiatry.  

View more Community Conversations

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester is a hub site for New York State's Project TEACH (Training and Education for the Advancement of Children's Health). Our team consists of child and adolescent psychiatrists, reproductive psychiatrists, and a Liaison Coordinator. Psychiatry training is provided for pediatricians and primary care providers with a sub-specialty interest in mental health and wellness.

Learn more about Project TEACH

Project Teach logo

This training aims to disseminate experiences to mental health professionals derived from working with dually diagnosed patients with risk factors for violence. These experiences will enable you to utilize practical approaches toward safe practice in a user-friendly format. This training will allow you, the community mental health professional, to work preventively and proactively with your patients while minimizing work-related risks.

Learn More about the Safety & Violence program

UR-Supporting Our Students enhances the capacity of middle and high school educators within the 9-county NY Finger Lakes region to support adolescents with behavioral health needs, including those with serious emotional disturbances. UR-SOS alums include educators from area school districts, including Rochester City School District, Young Women’s College Prep, Uncommon Schools, Rochester Academy, Greece Central Schools, Churchville Chili, East Irondequoit, Fairport, Webster, Gates Chili, and BOCES 2. Future rounds will include Ontario, Yates, Livingston, Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, and Seneca Counties school districts.

Learn more about  UR SOS

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center hosted the International College of Psychosomatic Medicine 2022 World Congress in Rochester, New York.  The focus of the conference was the Biopsychosocial Model: Past & Future. The University of Rochester Medical Center, the birthplace of the Biopsychosocial Model, was proud to bring everyone together to discuss methods around the model across the globe.

Learn More about the World Congress

large conference room with people sitting at tables

Youth Mental Health First Aid training, facilitated by Dr. Linda Alpert-Gillis and Jerard Johnson, instructs participants on identifying, understanding, and responding to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among adolescents ages 12-18. Youth Mental Health First Aid Training is a gold standard, evidence-based training curriculum that helps adults identify, approach, refer and support children and teens who might be struggling.

The YMCA of Greater Rochester collaborates with Dr. Melissa Heatly and partners at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Youth Mental Health First Aid training for staff working at YMCA summer day and overnight camps. 

Learn more about Mental Health First from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

group of teens talking

Mental Health First Logo

Research Collaborations

The Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention (CoE) was established in 2007 by the Department of Veterans Affairs with the mission to prevent suicidal behaviors among all Veterans using a public health approach. It is located in Canandaigua, NY, and is part of the VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System. Center activities include research, education/outreach, and suicide surveillance and directly support the VA’s National Suicide Prevention Program in Washington, D.C.

The Center’s primary academic affiliate is the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Psychiatry. CoE Scientists work with URMC Psychiatry on national research projects investigating sleep, overdose prevention, lethal means safety, and other interventions to prevent suicide and suicide related behaviors.

The Center offers several opportunities for trainees to contribute to its mission, including the Advanced Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in Veteran Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. This is a two-year program designed to provide psychologists and physicians with the experience to become leaders and innovators in Veteran suicide prevention. The CoE recently launched its Diversity in Suicide Prevention Research Program, which provides research experience and training to diverse medical and graduate students interested in a career in suicide research. 

Learn more about the CoE

US Veterans affairs building


The University of Rochester Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide (UR/CSPS) is dedicated to reducing mortality and morbidity from suicide and attempted suicide. We are creating systematic processes for fostering and initiating collaborative, multidisciplinary suicide research and prevention programs. 

Learn More about CSPS

teal and purple ribbon for suicide prevention

HAVEN-Connect is a new initiative funded by the New York Office of Mental Health and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The project helps Black churches leverage a strong history of supporting community youth to promote mental health in Black youth. HAVEN-Connect fosters social connections and enhances coping skills to prevent problems like depression and suicidal behaviors. 

HAVEN-Connect group training is delivered in community settings to members of “natural social networks” (e.g., churches, youth programs.) The training provides individual and group skills designed to help members thrive during adversity and life transitions, to reduce vulnerability to mental health problems, including depression and suicidal behavior. Members of natural community networks train together to incorporate skills into their group culture and build cohesion, shared purpose, and healthy norms.

HAVEN-Connect (for adolescents) and HAVEN-Connect (for adults and parent groups) are designed to build cohesive natural networks, enhance adaptive coping skills, help-seeking acceptance, and a shared language for adolescents with their parents and other community members about growing key protective strengths.

Four Core Protective Strengths
HAVEN-Connect training is delivered to groups of 15-40 youth in similar age groups. Approximately 6hrs of interactive exercises build key group and individual protective factors:

  • Community cohesion and belonging (Kinship)
  • Meaning and value in work, life, and role (Purpose)
  • Informal and formal support and help-seeking (Guidance)
  • Diversity of activities that give strength and perspective in times of transition and difficulty (Balance).

Learn More about HAVEN

two young men walking down the street talking

UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence works to reduce morbidity, mortality, and other harmful effects of substance use disorder in rural communities, with special attention to synthetic opioids. We identify and adapt evidence-based and emerging best practices to be successful in rural communities, develop programs and disseminate resources that facilitate their implementation.

Learn More about the Recover Center for Excellence

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The Senior Health and Research Alliance is a partnership for research between the Department of Psychiatry, Lifespan, and Eldersource. The SHARE partnership, established in 2003, has as its principal objective to develop and test innovative approaches to the care of older adults that leverage the resources of aging services to complement medical and mental health care and optimize overall health outcomes and quality of life. 

SHARE Alliance activities have included: training agency care managers in the detection and basic management of late-life mental illness and the assessment and management of suicide risk, adopting a routine of screening for mental disorders in agency clients, revising the data management systems of the agencies to support research, and conducting research studies using the tools. Recent activities include:

Learn more about the SHARE Alliance

older man thinking

TRANSFORM Community Engagement Core (CEC) aims to:

  • To bridge the gap between child abuse prevention/intervention research and practice
  • To expand the pool of maltreatment researchers through mentoring and training
  • To leverage existing resources to contact and connect people across child-serving systems

Learn more about TRANSFORM 

The Wingman-Connect Program (W-CP) is the first universal preventive intervention tested through a randomized clinical trial to reduce suicide risk and depression in a general, non-clinical U.S. Air Force population. The W-CP's group training focuses on strengthening connections among group members and building each group's collective skills for managing career and personal challenges. W-CP creates a healthy group culture that leverages the influence of peers on members' behaviors, including their seeking help and coping. 

Learn more about Wingman Connect

military men shaking hands

The Wynne Center for Family Research conducts clinical research to understand how family and relationship processes influence behavioral and biological bases of mental and physical health. The Center provides clinical research training and disseminates clinical research findings to inform clinical practice and public knowledge.

Learn More about the Wynne Center

family smiling and walking together

Care & Clinical Service Collaborations

Healing through Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law (HEAL) provides mental health, legal, and social services to individuals 18 years of age and older to help ensure safety and well-being. The HEAL Collective partners with social services and legal entities in the Rochester community.

Learn more about HEAL

waiting room of outpatient clinic

FLCEAD, led by Dr. Carole Podgorski, works to expand the reach of services for people with cognitive impairment. A big part of this is outreach to rural and minority communities. The number of referrals for dementia screenings the center receives outstrips capacity, so FLCEAD is working with other UR partners to educate primary care doctors to screen in their practices. URMC’s Memory Care Program is the clinical hub for FLCEAD.

Learn more about FLCEAD

nurse talking to patient in wheelchair

Rochester Youth Violence Partnership RYVP is an intervention program developed by the University of Rochester Medical Center and headed by the Medical Center’s Kessler Burn and Trauma Center. The partnership is a hospital-based violence intervention program that helps trauma victims under 18 and is supported by more than 30 local non-profit, government, and service-based organizations, including Golisano Children's Hospital at URMC and Rochester General Hospital.

Learn more about RYVP

medical providers sitting at table

Sources of Strength is a comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention and looks to impact other issues students deal with, such as bullying, substance abuse, and violence. This evidence-based program trains students as peer leaders. It connects them with mentoring adult advisors at school and in the community, where they are then, in turn, able to help their fellow students with school-wide healthy coping and connections that reduce vulnerability to suicidal behavior.

In addition, thanks to this initial funding, middle schools across the state have participated in the "Above the Influence" substance abuse prevention program, also implemented by Dr. Wyman's team at the University of Rochester. This program engages eighth graders to encourage their peers to overcome pressures to abuse drugs and alcohol. Peer leaders go through training to learn what motivates them to rise above negative influences.

Learn more about Sources of Strength & Above the Influence

two students greeting each other in locker room

Initiated in 2019, this partnership between The National Parent Leadership Institute and UR Medicine: Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness (PBHW) has focused on engaging in family-centered activities to support equity in mental health for Black and Latino children ages 0-8 in the Greater Rochester community. The primary aim of this project is to increase parent involvement and collaboration in service development, planning, and delivery. 

View a listing of resources developed with the participation of parents for parents. 

child hugging her mother

Psychiatrists, psychiatry residents, and medical students from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Department of Psychiatry volunteer their time at St Joseph's Mental Health Clinic, engaging in community-based psychiatric support for a diverse group of patients who are uninsured or underinsured.

Learn more about St. Joseph's

women therapist talking with patient

The New York State-licensed ACT teams are specialty programs located within Strong Ties. The ACT teams utilize a multidisciplinary treatment approach to provide intensive outreach mental health services to individuals with serious mental disorders. 

Learn more about Strong Ties

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential service that provides employees and household members of our customer organizations the opportunity to discuss personal or work-related problems with a professional counselor. 

Learn more about EAP

WISH helps women recently released from Monroe County Jail or New York State Prison access needed health services in a timely manner. Dr. Diane Morse, a primary care physician, directs the program and provides medical care, while peer community health workers assist with a variety of resources. The program serves patients needing medical care to access mental health services, including counseling, psychiatric medications, and chemical dependency treatment.

Learn more about WISH-TC

silhouette of women in blue

Cultural Partnerships and Service

The Bridge Art Gallery aims to provide a space for local artists to display their artwork while simultaneously creating a comforting and therapeutic environment for patients, families, and employees. We aim to diminish the stigma and hesitance associated with entering our part of the Medical Center. The gallery holds three shows each year. The gallery holds three shows each year. 

Learn more about the Bridge Art Gallery

bridge art gallery with artwork on the wall

A collaborative team of clergy members from diverse faith communities in the Rochester community working together to address issues critical to the community, particularly regarding the overall health of the poor community, especially mental health. 

Learn more about CMHC

The Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) seeks to advance the quality of life of persons for whom hearing loss is a significant aspect of their identity or experience. Our focus is on increasing the positive contributions of the healthcare fields to this quality of life, especially the field of psychology. We pursue innovations in clinical service, training, and research that will have the broadest possible impact and utility. We are dedicated to ensuring the advancement of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Learn More about DWC

Two people using sign language to communicate

The Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council of Consumers, also known as “D-Pack,” is a council that meets monthly and serves as the “voice” of patients and families to provide feedback to the Department of Psychiatry Leadership. DPACC members ensure we include their points of view in improving the patient experience and the care we provide

Learn More about DPACC

In collaboration with the Eastman Performing Arts Medicine(EPAM) and the Department of Psychiatry offers Mental Health Musical Moments with musical performances for patients and families in the atrium. 

Music for the Mind Fundraisers raises funds to enhance the lives of patients, families, and staff by providing onsite music opportunities. 

a women playing a violin and a man playing a guitar
Eastman School of Music Students  

 Team Behavioral Health & Wellness was created and participated in its first Stroll event in 2011.  Over the years, the team has grown and helped to raise thousands of dollars in support of our Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness programs including child and adolescent outpatient services, partial hospitalization service, and inpatient service. 

Faculty, Staff, Residents, Fellows, and Students from the Department of Psychiatry join our Team Behavioral Health & Wellness to donate their time in annual community activities in the Rochester area, including the Annual Stroll for Strong Kids and the NAMI Rochester walk. 

UR team of people who walked in a fund raiser