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Michael Hasselberg Named Top 50 Leader in Digital Health

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Michael Hasselberg
We are congratulating Michael Hasselberg, MS, PhD for recently being named one of Rock Health's Top 50 Leaders in Digital Health. Dr. Hasselberg is the UR Medicine's first Senior Director of Digital Health as well as co-director of the UR Health Lab, which developed the  open-source Dr. Chat Bot software to make sure it is safe for university employees to report to work everyday. We commend Dr. Hasselberg's leadership in telehealth, digital innovation and technology, particularly during these unprecedented times.


Read More: Michael Hasselberg Named Top 50 Leader in Digital Health

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Service Begins at UR Medicine

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

We are excited to share that our Interventional Psychiatry team has recently begun offering Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. This non-invasive procedure uses a magnetic field to stimulate brain regions associated with depression and is FDA approved for people suffering from major depression that have not had adequate response to other treatments. UR Medicine is the first health system in the area to offer this treatment widely in the community. The TMS service is starting small and plans to grow quickly to meet community needs and consumer preferences.

Sam Huber, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, thanked all those involved with the service launch, saying "We have an amazing TMS crew including Drs. [Samantha] Kamp[Oner] Gonen, and [Telva] Olivares, as well as RNs Marie Page and Lily Caron, and Practice Manager Leah Green. Each have contributed to our new service in ways that cannot be understated. This team truly lives our Interventional Psychiatry mission of 'providing psychiatry’s most effective treatments in the most effective ways.'" 


Supporting the Community This Holiday Season

Saturday, December 4, 2021

If you are looking for a way to give back while doing your holiday shopping this season, check out the Zoey's Lovely Heart Club 6th Annual Tree Farm Fundraiser on December 4th and 5th!

Started by our very own Dr. Megan Lytle and her husband Patrick, this fundraiser helps support Golisano Children's Hospital. In addition, you and your family can stop by to help create holiday stockings/giftbags for families in the NICU.

Read More: Supporting the Community This Holiday Season

Carol Podgorski Receives 2021 Family-Oriented Care Award

Friday, November 19, 2021

Carol Podgorski
Carol Podgorski, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.

Message from Dr. Susan McDaniel,
Dr. Laurie Sands Distinguished Professor of Families & Health
Director, Institute for the Family, & Chief of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Carol Podgorski as the recipient of the 2021 Family-Oriented Care Award given today at the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association annual conference. This award recognizes an outstanding clinician and/or researcher who incorporates the principles of family-oriented care into their day-to-day work promoting health (prevention and intervention) with patients and their families. Dr. Podgorski is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Associate Director of the Institute for the Family. For those of your who don’t know a lot about Carol’s background, as she is unlikely to advertise her many accomplishments, it begins with her training:  She received a PhD in sociology. Because of her commitment to understanding families and health systems, she went on to acquire master’s degrees in public health, and another master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and presently serves as the Director of the Finger Lakes Center of Excellence in Alzheimer’s Disease and as Co-Director of URMC’s Family Therapy Training Program.

Dr. Podgorski was nominated for this award by geropsychologist and fellow family therapist, Lauren DeCaporale-Ryan PhD. I’d like to share with you some of Lauren’s letter of nomination as it is an excellent description of Carol and her accomplishments. Carol promotes attention to families through direct patient care, research, education and professional advocacy.

  • Clinical Service. When you walk down the halls of Strong Family Therapy Services, it is not uncommon to see parents and spouses entering our clinical venue. Their participation in treatment is at the core of how we approach clinical care and Carol has played a significant role in ensuring families’ presence. She regularly works with aging families to adjust to chronic disease diagnoses, navigate new caregiving responsibilities, and manage long-term family dynamics that can be disruptive to the safety and wellbeing of all family members. Adult children, spouses, grandchildren, and others that patients identify as important in their personal context are included in care. She views the family system as the patient. She honors the presence and importance of each, she recalls small but critical details that help each person feel understood, and sits with families through major life transitions.
  • Research. Recently, Carol took a sabbatical. During this time she focused her attention on family interventions for individuals and their caregivers facing a diagnosis of dementia. Her efforts have yielded a beautiful framework that is intended to guide multidisciplinary clinicians to attend to the needs of the patient and the family. What Carol has developed reflects on the intersectionality of the identified patient, the family caregiver, their social networks, and everything between. As part of this initiative, she has also developed guidelines and recommendations for clinicians that help promote the inclusion of families in primary care visits and that will aid improved understanding of aging families.
  • Education. As Co-Director of the Institute’s Family Therapy Training Program, Carol serves as course instructor, clinical supervisor, and provides oversight to our post[1]degree program in medical family therapy. As one of our graduates said: Carol so clearly embodies the role of educator. Given the depth and breadth of her experience and expertise with systems/family[1]oriented approaches, it has been a true joy to learn about being a well-rounded clinician and supervisor from her. Whether in group settings with other trainees or during our time together for an independent study, I have greatly appreciated her thoughtful, compassionate, and authentic leadership and teaching style. Time and again, Carol has gone out of her way to offer her support and assistance despite her busy schedule and numerous responsibilities.
  • Professional Advocacy. Carol has been a tremendous advocate for the integration of behavioral health clinicians into routine healthcare, with particular attention to marriage and family therapists. She is a very effective advocate and has lobbied at the state land federal level. When Carol speaks, she does so with patients, their families, and clinicians in mind.

In sum, Carol is a tremendous gift to family therapy, psychiatry, geriatrics, and medicine. She is a fierce advocate for family caregivers, always prioritizing having a family caregiver co-present with her when giving a talk, ensuring that the family voice be heard. Carol constantly demonstrates an appreciation of the application of science to practice, gives to the next generation of learners routinely and generously, and has a clear respect for diversity across the lifespan.

Congratulations for this well-deserved recognition, Dr. Podgorski!

October 2021 Publications

Friday, November 12, 2021

  • Thomas O’Connor, PhD and Allison Ciesla, PhD published this paper which researched the Maternal Immune Activation hypothesis and its effect on understanding prenatal influences on individual differences
  • Yeates Conwell, MD coauthored this paper aimed at estimating the impact of continuity of care (COC) on successful community discharge after hospitalization in older veterans with dementia.
Read More: October 2021 Publications

Psychiatry Mental Health Nursing Team Promotes Staff Wellness

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

URMC Psychiatry Nursing Wellness Fair

The Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Service, in conjunction with the Strong Memorial Hospital Strategic Nursing Wellness Committee, held a Wellness Fair on Wednesday, Oct 6th, 2021 on 4-9200. We had multiple wellness stations for the inpatient nursing staff to visit that included: Biometric Screening, Workplace Orthopedic Screens, Employee Assistance Program and Well-U, The Running Company, Healthy Snacks, and Flu Shots. In addition, we developed several additional stations that we thought would be helpful and supportive to our staff, these included: Secondary Traumatic Stress, Promoting Better Sleep, Mindfulness & Meditation resources, and Take a Hike, Bike, or Stroll. (We asked for suggestions from participants for hikes and daytrips to try on your day off.)  

Nursing Wellness Room

We also celebrated the grand opening of the Nursing Wellness Room. This is a place that allows staff some space to decompress after a difficult event has occurred on one of our inpatient units. The room is comfortable, quiet, allows staff some distraction, and self-care activities, and perhaps to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee before regrouping to return to their unit. Nursing Leadership donated and purchased prizes with wellness themes that were  raffled off to staff.  

Staff that assisted during the seven-hour Wellness Fair included Lara Walker, Nurse Manager (4-9000); Brian Swart, ANM (3-9200); Laura Aikens, RN 39000; Mary Jo Newcomb, RN Ambulatory; Tara Augenstein, PhD, Inpatient Psychology;  Autumn Gallegos, PhD, Department Wellness Officer, and Heather O'Brien, Senior Nurse Educator. 


HEAL Celebrates 5 Years

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

HEAL OfficeIn October, the Healing through Health, Education, Advocacy and Law (HEAL) Collaborative celebrated its five year anniversary. HEAL was developed as a partnership between URMC, people who have lived experience with domestic violence, and community partner agencies to provide psychological, medical, legal, and personal support for those who have experienced psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and/or elder abuse. Partners include Willow Domestic Violence Center, the Rochester Police Department, Just Cause, the Legal Aid Society of RochesterLifespan, SAFER (an advocate group), and Monroe Family Court. The services HEAL provides include legal assistance, social work support, trauma-focused psychotherapy, and medical consultation, and in response to the pandemic, the team has moved to a hybrid model of services. Congratulations to HEAL for this milestone, and keep up the great work! 


Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy Program Holding Open Houses

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Our Masters of Science Program in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) will be holding two virtual open houses on November 5th and December 3rd! This will be an opportunity for those interested in a career in Marriage and Family Therapy to learn more about the program. To register for either session, email

Ambulatory Team Recognized for Vaccination Efforts

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

East House partnership award

East House recently recognized our ambulatory psychiatry nursing team and the ambulatory provider group with the Partner In Hope Award for their help in administering COVID-19 vaccines. Back in February, this team held Mobile Vaccine Clinic days to help vaccinate East House staff and patients.

Speaking on the ambulatory team, Kim Brumber, President and CEO of East House said, "[This] partnership to vaccinate our staff, but even more so, our clients for whom transportation can be challenging in the best of times, was truly lifesaving. East House experienced lower COVID numbers than our peer organizations and we in large part credit that to your support."

Kudos to the ambulatory team as well as to the team coordinators, Laura Inclema, MS, RN-BC and Telva Olivares, MD, for their work in supporting our community! 

Lisham Ashrafioun Awarded Two Grants from Veteran's Affairs

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will soon be supporting interventions to help Veterans experiencing substance use disorder at UR Medicine. We are excited to share that Lisham Ashrafioun, PhD recently was awarded two grants from the VA. The first of the funded studies will test an intervention to increase the management of pain without medications among veterans taking prescription opioids. The second will develop and assess an intervention to decrease loneliness among Veterans with a substance use disorder. Congratulations to Dr. Ashrafioun for these awards in an important topic!

Patrick Seche Receives 2021 Collaborative Care Award

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Congratulations to Patrick Seche, MS, Director of Services in Addiction Psychiatry, for being awarded the 2021 Collaborative Care Award. We celebrate your leadership and commitment to people struggling with substance abuse disorders as well as to the staff and clinicians who are involved in this important work.

September 2021 Publications

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Read More: September 2021 Publications

Psychiatry Faculty Among Awardees for Roc STAR Pilot Awards

Friday, October 15, 2021

The Rochester Roybal Center for Social Ties and Aging Research, a research center focused on promoting the social well-being and healthy aging of those caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, recently announced the recipients of their 2021 pilot awards. Among the awardees are research teams led by three Psychiatry faculty- Kimberly Van Orden, PhDCaroline Silva, PhD, and Autumn Gallegos, PhD- who will be researching psychotherapy to promote social connectedness among caregivers, culturally tailoring interventions for Hispanic and Latino caregivers, and smartphone apps for mindfulness training for older adult caregivers, respectively.

Read More: Psychiatry Faculty Among Awardees for Roc STAR Pilot Awards

Taking Suicide Out of the Darkness

Thursday, October 14, 2021

steve schonfeld"Loss survivors continue to need support well after a suicide death occurs," says Steven Schonfeld, MD. 

September marked Suicide Prevention Month, a time to remember those affected by suicide, to raise awareness, and to focus efforts on directing treatment to those who need it most. A recent endowed donation from Dr. Schonfeld, a 1974 graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, will support the science and study of suicide prevention through our Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide

Read More: Taking Suicide Out of the Darkness

Register for the Behavioral Health Integration 6th Annual Symposium

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Registration for the University of Rochester Behavioral Health Integration 6th Annual Symposium is now open! Between September 17th and October 8th, speakers will hold virtual talks every Friday on substance use, suicide prevention, and public health. Register for this free event here. 

University of Rochester Behavioral Health Integration Symposium teaser image


Read More: Register for the Behavioral Health Integration 6th Annual Symposium

Renewed Funding Supports Continued Telepsychiatry Care for Nursing Home Residents

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Our UR Medicine Telepsychiatry Program is a pilot project that was started in 2017 and demonstrates that telepsychiatry reduces emergency department visits and re-hospitalizations for nursing home residents.

Today, we are happy to share that the program was recently awarded a grant from the Office of Mental Health (OMH) to continue providing telepsychiatry to nursing homes throughout New York State, making it the first OMH legacy program at the University of Rochester. 

Read More: Renewed Funding Supports Continued Telepsychiatry Care for Nursing Home Residents

July 2021 Psychiatry Publications

Monday, August 23, 2021

Read More: July 2021 Psychiatry Publications

Psychiatry Debuts First-of-Its-Kind SUMMITS Unit

Thursday, July 29, 2021

New model stems from Pursuing Excellence project that focused on reducing readmissions, identifying need for less-stigmatized care

The Department of Psychiatry has created a 10-bed inpatient medical-psychiatry unit to provide specialized care and mental health resources for hospitalized individuals who have a co-morbidity resulting from substance use disorder (SUD). An open house and ribbon-cutting were held last week.

Called the SUMMITS (Substance Use, Medical Management, Infection Treatment and Support), the patient care model offered on G-9200 is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, serving patients who require longer hospital stays to manage medical issues related to alcohol or drug use, said SUMMITS director Kirk A. Harris, M.D.

“For patients who need hospitalization for something that will last a while—for example, organ failure due to alcoholism—we now are able to provide tailored resources earlier to help them begin addressing their substance use disorder prior to discharge,” Harris said.

The unique model includes embedded SUD counselors and peers, 24/7 coverage provided by dedicated and specialized med-psych RNs, LPNs and Techs with expertise in the field and a focus on group and individual activities to support patients. It allows the SUMMITS team to help bridge patients to eventual outpatient services at Strong Recovery and, for some patients, it may help mitigate the need for intensive substance use programs post-discharge.

“This is a truly unique, multidisciplinary service that will positively impact medical care and outcomes for some of our sickest patients with substance use disorder,” said Hochang (Ben) Lee, M.D., the John Romano Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry. “This innovative med-psych unit will provide a comprehensive approach that brings necessary medical and behavioral treatment into their care plan as early as possible. It certainly will be a model that will be adopted by hospitals across the country and we are proud to lead the way.”

The idea for SUMMITS originated with the leaders of the interdisciplinary inpatient medicine in psychiatry team, led by director Marsha Wittink, M.D. M.B.E., nurse manager Heather Jackson, M.S., R.N-B.C., and lead APP Lorraine Schild, M.S.N., A.N.P. As part of the first cohort of Unit-based Performance Program (UPP) teams to take part in the hospital’s Pursuing Excellence initiative, they focused their quality improvement project on reducing readmissions and subsequently identified a need to provide less-stigmatized, supportive medical care for patients with SUD.

Transfers to G-9200 are internal only and will occur based on key diagnostic criteria. Many patients will transfer from 1-9200, and staff will be shared between the two units. Referrals also will come from other specialties, such as Infectious Disease and Toxicology. A clinical team from the unit will meet with patients while they are elsewhere in the hospital to explain the new unit and discuss transfers to complete their stay.

The development of the unit included input from the Department of Psychiatry Advisory Council of Consumers (DPACC), a group that includes patients and family members.

Substance Use: Meeting the Challenges for Youth and Family

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Our Strong Recovery clinic invites you to a Community Conversation with providers from the Strong Recovery Adolescent and Young Adult Program and community representatives regarding substance use in youth. The event will take place on July 28th at noon, and there will be a question and answer section. 

Staff Awards Recognize Outstanding URMC Teams, Individuals

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Maria Romana Headshot

Each year, the University recognizes staff who go above and beyond the call of duty with President’s Staff Awards. This year's awards recognize several URMC individuals and teams whose contributions were especially impactful during the pandemic. Award recipients will be formally recognized sometime in the future.

Maria Romana, Clinical Director of our Strong Ties clinic was recently featured by UR Medicine as one of the awardees of the Witmer Award. This award celebrates staff whose careers have been characterized by outstanding and sustained contributions.

Read More: Staff Awards Recognize Outstanding URMC Teams, Individuals

Return on Investment: Sensitive Parenting in Childhood Creates 13-Fold Cost Savings

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A recent study found that sensitive parenting in childhood was related to lower social, educational and healthcare costs by the time participants were teens.

Thomas O'Connor, PhD, one of the coauthors on this paper, says, "In this paper, we show for the first time that early parenting quality predicted financial costs associated with health, education and welfare approximately a decade later. That is, poor early parenting is ‘costly’ not only in terms of child health and well-being, but also in terms of actual financial burden.”

Read More: Return on Investment: Sensitive Parenting in Childhood Creates 13-Fold Cost Savings

9th Annual Summer Brown Bag Series Discusses Antiracist Clinical Care

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

We are excited to once again be holding our annual Summer Brown Bag Series throughout the months of July and August! This year's series of virtual talks will focus on anti-racist clinical care and will feature speakers every Wednesday between noon and 1 PM. On July 21st and August 11th, there will be small group discussions dedicated to further work on the topics discussed in the previous weeks. This year's series is cosponsored by Departments of Neurology, Pediatrics, Medicine and the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Read More: 9th Annual Summer Brown Bag Series Discusses Antiracist Clinical Care

Ian Cero Receives UR CTSI Award to Address Suicide Prevention

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Ian Cero, Ph.D. is among the three recipients of an award from UR CTSI: University of Rochester Clinical & Translational Science Institute to support budding researchers. His project aims to adapt Wingman-Connect, a unique suicide prevention program focused on military personnel, to suicide prevention in teens.

Read More: Ian Cero Receives UR CTSI Award to Address Suicide Prevention

Mongkae Siripornsawan Named Associate Medical Director for CPEP Education

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Mongkae SiripornsawanWe're excited to share that Mongkae Siripornsawan, M.D. will take on a new role in our Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) as the Associate Medical Director for CPEP Education. In this role, she will oversee CPEP education for our trainees as well as serving as the CPEP point person for complex cases involving children/adolescents.

Sue Digiovanni, M.D., Associate Chair for Clinical Services and Chief of the Adult Psychiatry Division, commented on Dr. Siripornsawan’s new role, saying, “With her new role working collaboratively with training programs, I am confident we will elevate the educational experience and learning environment in CPEP as an essential component of trainees’ experience in our department.”

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Siripornsawan on her new role!

Student Group, URMC Faculty Mentors Receive Grant to Build Partnership Between Incarcerated Individuals, Allies and Medical Centers

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Health and Incarceration Connection (HIC) student group at the University of Rochester School of Medicine was recently awarded an AΩA 2021 Medical Student Service Leadership Project Grant for their grant application titled "Health and Incarceration Connection: A Community-Centered Leadership Collaborative." The Health and Incarceration Connection (HIC) student group was formed in 2019 to educate medical students about the specific health needs of people who are currently or formerly incarcerated. The grant has been awarded to allow HIC to grow and expand its mission and community impact. HIC aspires to build a coalition between individuals who are currently and formerly incarcerated and community allies that is co-led by medical students and people with lived experience in Rochester, NY.

In fulfillment of the grant, HIC aims to accomplish the following:

  1. Create a pilot program that matches individuals who are currently incarcerated in Monroe County Jail to the aforementioned coalition of people with lived experience and allies
  2. Develop an effort to make a sustainable addition to the medical school curriculum, in partnership with community members who are formerly incarcerated, to strengthen education on the connections between health, incarceration, and race, and
  3. Build a sustainable community alliance partnership that works against individual and structural biases in healthcare and centers advocates for the needs and ideas of community members in decision-making processes.

Faculty mentors of the grant include Dr. Diane Morse (primary faculty mentor), Dr. Natalie Whaley, Dr. Michael Mendoza, and Dr. Kristin Doughty. Community mentors of the grant include Matthew Petitte.

Mental Health and Wellness Family Room Reopens at UR Medicine Mental Health and Wellness

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

After taking a break last year due to the pandemic, we're excited to share that the Mental Health and Wellness Family Room sponsored by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, NY Inc. has officially reopened on the ground floor of our Strong Memorial Hospital location!

In Phase I of reopening, the room will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 AM -- 5 PM. Families and guardians of pediatric patients can stop by for respite and laundry services.

Social distancing protocols will still be in place and families will need to sign a COVID waiver when they enter.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities Mental Health and Wellness Family Room Advertisement

Congratulations to our ACGME Residency and Fellowship Graduates!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Last week, we were excited to celebrate our graduates and their families in our hybrid virtual and in-person ACGME Residency and Fellowship Graduation Ceremony.

Tziporah Rosenberg, PhD, Director for Training and Education, says, " The evening was such a breath of fresh air for those of us who have longed for connecting and the "normal" highlights of our year, with end-of-year and graduation events being a true highlight. The program was chock full of rich stories about our graduates, their growth and evolution over the course of their time with us, and the promise of what's next for each of them. . . . I can say with confidence that it was an evening replete with funny stories, touching reflections of appreciation, and heartwarming goodbyes."

In addition, we celebrated our faculty and education team who were selected by the graduates themselves along with our educational leadership.

Congratulations to all our graduates! We're excited to see your next steps in your journey as healthcare professionals!

2021 Graduation Ceremony Video Thumbnail

Read More: Congratulations to our ACGME Residency and Fellowship Graduates!

Clergy Mental Health Collaborative Holds Suicide Prevention Event

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Clergy Mental Health Collaborative, a collective of pastors facilitated by John S. Walker, MDiv, PhD working together to address issues critical to the community, will be holding a virtual event on May 1st from 9 AM to noon titled A Discussion of the Needs and Concerns for Suicide Prevention in the Black, Latino, and Wider Communities. The event will feature our very own Eric Caine, MD, alongside April Aycock, EdD, Director of the Monroe County Office of Mental Health, Minister Earl Greene, MA of the Children's Institute, Rudy Rivera, Executive Director of the Fr. Laurence Tracy Advocacy Center, and Melanie Funchess, President of Ubuntu Village Works, LLC. ASL and Spanish translation available.

Skills Lab Collaborates with School of Nursing for Suicide Prevention

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Psychiatry's Education Committee recently supported an educational collaboration between the Department's nursing educators and the School of Nursing for suicide prevention skill training for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners students. Throughout the fall, 2020 and winter of 2021 twelve students engaged in two individual simulations in the Skills Lab with standardized patients who provided feedback on suicide specific skills. Joanne Bartlett and Julia Mitchell were project co-leads along with Dr. Susan Blaakman (URSON PMHNP Program Specialty Director) and additional faculty, including Dr. Kate Tredwell, who provided didactics and clinical mentorship. In addition to enhanced observed skills, students' knowledge, attitudes and satisfaction were assessed. The ability for the Skills Lab to provide a telehealth platform was particularly valuable during COVID but also because the PMHNP program is comprised of non-traditional distance learners. Dr. Blaakman emphasized that "it is vital to provide learners meaningful ways to develop essential competencies during their clinical education, and the Skills Lab telehealth experiences were ideal for addressing our distance students' diverse learning needs."

Student participants provided feedback on the experience. Erica Boccia, pictured left below during an encounter with a Standardized Patient (with permission) stated:

"As a soon-to-be new graduate, I can honestly say I have only encountered one person who was actively suicidal in the 3 years I had been working in mental health. These types of practice opportunities and immediate feedback are important to the reduction of harm for our patients. Being able to have a no-risk trial with prompt constructive feedback, may be the thing that saves a life later. I appreciate this being included in our program and really believe this to be incredibly useful to PMHNP students!"

skills lab collaboration

Princewill Fonta, pictured right above during an encounter with a Standardized Patient (with permission) provided this reflection:

"…she made the session look so real. Her feedback regarding my performance was a good educational session, which is a step moving forward regarding my interview skills. I have never had the opportunity for patients assessing and giving me feedback regarding my performance. So the standardized patient experience was a good tool to help assess my rapport with patients, my skills, my engagement during the assessment process and if I`m asking the questions correctly."

With the success of this project, the URSON faculty are eager to pursue ongoing options to collaborate and to explore inter-professional learning opportunities through the Skills Lab.

Serina Tetenov, PhD, LCSW-R Named Director of Adult Ambulatory Services

Monday, April 5, 2021

Please join us in welcoming Serina Tetenov, PhD, LCSW-R to her new role as Director of Adult Ambulatory Services.

serina-tetenovDr. Tetenov comes to us with a great deal of clinical, teaching, and administrative experience. Prior to joining the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Tetenov served in the role of Director, Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency Outpatient Mental Health Clinic for Monroe and Yates counties. Within this role, she has provided group and clinical supervision, overseen the onboarding of new hires, developed and implemented policies and procedures, assisted the clinicians in meeting productivity targets, and built strong clinical teams.

In addition to her administrative role, Serina has taught courses at the University of Rochester -- Margaret Warner School of Education. Courses taught include Counseling Practicum, Counseling Theory and Practice, and Counseling Communication Skills. She also taught Social and Cultural Diversity at Medaille College -- Rochester campus. She has also spent a significant number of years providing care management and clinical care to varied patient populations. She has worked within Strong system- in the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, and Highland Hospital. She has also worked in the Rochester Regional Health mental health service areas.

Third Annual Psychology Day at URMC

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

On April 15th, we will celebrate our third annual Psychology Day here at URMC. Coinciding with the 14th Annual Psychology Day at the United Nations, this day honors the work of our psychologists and trainees across the UR system -- in primary care, pediatric specialties, inpatient units, surgery, women's health, outpatient mental health settings, and more. Thank you psychologists and psychologists-in-training for all you do for our patients, their families, our community, and our healthcare system at large! As part of our celebration, we'll be highlighting pictures of our psychologists on social media. Please check out our platforms and join us by using the hashtags #PsychologyDay2021 and #PsychDayUN2021. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm!

Read More: Third Annual Psychology Day at URMC

"Youth for Racial Justice: Not a Moment, but a Movement" Art Show Highlights Youth Artwork

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Bridge Art Gallery and Pediatric Behavioral Health and Wellness Outpatient Services' Racial Justice Initiatives Group invited youth from the Rochester area to respond to calls for action for racial justice across the nation and in our own community for their current art show, Youth for Racial Justice: Not a Moment, but a Movement. This show was held with support from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation and Golisano Children's Hospital. A virtual reception celebrating the artists was held on March 18th.

Watch a recording of the reception below!

February 2021 Publications

Friday, March 12, 2021

Mobile Vaccine Clinic Brings COVID-19 Vaccines to Rochester Community

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Mobile Vaccine ClinicCoordinated by Laura Inclema, MS, RN-BC and Telva Olivares, MD, our ambulatory psychiatry nursing team and the ambulatory provider group held two Mobile Vaccine Clinic days in order to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for at-risk patients enrolled in Office of Mental Health or Office of Addiction Services and Supports programs.

This mobile vaccination clinic was held in partnership with the Finger Lakes Vaccine Hub and East House. In just two days between two vaccine sites, the Mobile Vaccine Clinic was able to provide vaccines to almost 400 individuals in the Rochester community. Thank you to everyone that helped with this effort including, but not limited to, identifying and scheduling eligible patients and assisting with paperwork! Pictured are Laura Inclema, Kerry Uebelacker, Courtney Blackwood, Stephany McClure, Margaret Marcello, Telva Olivares.

January 2021 Publications

Friday, February 12, 2021

Death from Intentional Self-Injury Across U.S. a Growing Health Crisis

Monday, February 8, 2021

A new injury mortality study, published by Lancet's EClinicalMedicine, exposes a mental health crisis that has unfolded across the United States over the past two decades, with study data having direct implications for suicide prevention efforts.

Suicides by drug self-intoxication are more difficult to determine for medical examiners and coroners in the U.S. than suicides that result from behaviorally and forensically obvious methods, such as death by firearm. Measuring self-injury mortality (SIM)—suicides plus estimated "nonsuicide" drug self-intoxication deaths—circumvents misclassification and more accurately accounts for fatal self-injuries.

Using this broader definition of suicide paints a drastically different picture. Counting suicides alone as the measure of fatal self-injury in the U.S. emphasizes only a high rate in western states. Yet measuring self-injury mortality, this new study describes a burgeoning national mental health crisis that actually encompasses all four major geographic regions (Northeast, Midwest, South and West).

Leading the study is Ian Rockett, Ph.D., of West Virginia University and the University of Rochester Medical Center. Co-investigators include URMC's Eric D. Caine, M.D., and Hilary Connery, M.D., Ph.D., of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

"Despite victims sharing many common risk factors, suicide and drug overdose deaths tend to be treated separately in the scientific literature, media, health care system, and by funding agencies and prevention programs," Rockett said. "Among these risk factors are unemployment, family discord, unmanaged and mismanaged physical pain, and various psychiatric disorders that include alcohol and other substance use disorders."

Rockett emphasized that, "While most people dying by overdose may not have intended to die, they were engaging in repetitive, intentional, self-injurious behaviors that they understood markedly increased their chances of dying prematurely. Calling these deaths 'accidents' (the forensic classification most often used in the U.S.) or 'unintentional' (the term used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) mischaracterizes what occurred, even if it is consistent with the classifications used by medical examiners and coroners."

The research team tapped into cause-of-death data for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research. After broadening the SIM definition, they found the national annual average percentage change in the SIM rate was 4.3% versus 1.8% for the suicide rate.

Early data indicate the Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the situation.

"Opioid and other drug-overdose deaths continue to rise in spite of medical efforts to make life-saving medications for opioid use disorder available to patients and communities," Connery said. "Many persons suffering drug use disorders become hopeless—they relapse frequently, continue to experience relationship losses, health consequences, and economic instability, and they frequently suffer other mental disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders. We know that people with addiction have 10 times the rate of suicide compared to those without addiction."

Caine underscored that this work has major implications for future suicide prevention efforts. It is especially important to deploy programs "upstream" when groups and individuals can be helped with fundamentally distressing problems long before they ever become suicidal, he said. Recognizing a patient's full story -- risk factors, long-term health history, socioeconomic experiences -- is key to providing lifesaving, comprehensive care.

"The ultimate goal must be to prevent premature death," Caine said, "whether by suicide or fatal overdoses, or from the many systemic medical conditions that arise from the same group of risky, damaging behaviors."

Read More: Death from Intentional Self-Injury Across U.S. a Growing Health Crisis

URMC to Launch New Brain Aging Research Center

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The University of Rochester Medical Center is launching a new center to study the relationship between emotional well-being and dementia-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

Ample research has uncovered links between emotional well-being in older adults and Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. But little is known about the direction of the relationship.

The Network for Emotional Well-Being (NEW) and Brain Aging is a collaboration between researchers from the UR School of Nursing, the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, the Department of Psychiatry, the UR Aging Institute and their colleagues at other universities across the country. It is one of five networks funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to examine the topic from different angles.

The NEW Brain Aging Center at URMC, established with a four-year, $2.5 million grant from the NIH's National Institute on Aging, will focus on clarifying two separate mechanistic relationships: the impact of an aging brain on emotional well-being in older adults, and the influence of emotional well-being on brain function and cognitive aging.

"People have been studying aspects of emotional well-being, such as how to be happy or finding a purpose in life, for hundreds of years. But in terms of understanding how emotional well-being is linked to aging and dementia pathologies, this is really new. Nobody has studied it in this way," said Feng Vankee Lin, PhD, RN, Marie C. Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson Professor in Nursing and associate professor of nursing, neuroscience, psychiatry, neurology, and brain and cognitive sciences, who is the principal investigator on the grant.

"Fully 30% of the patients we see in our system, in inpatient and ambulatory settings, are older adults. They are the fastest growing segment of the population and the most frequent consumers of health care," said Yeates Conwell, MD, professor of psychiatry, who is a lead investigator on the grant. "The UR Aging Institute, now with the addition of NEW Brain Aging, will help meet the challenge of assuring not only the health care needs of our older patients are met, but that the quality of life is optimized, as well."

The NEW Brain Aging Center will be guided by an eight-member executive committee made up of researchers from four universities (University of Rochester, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California Santa Cruz), headed by Lin, Conwell, and Kuan Hong Wang, PhD, professor of neuroscience, who is also a lead investigator. "We knew we needed to know more about the link between emotional well-being and aging, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put a particular urgency into understanding this relationship," Wang said. "The pandemic is a stressor particularly threatening to older adults. Some people are already having either mild cognitive impairment or are having Alzheimer's disease progression. This center will hopefully lead us to a better understanding of the interplay between emotional well-being and aging brain diseases."

Other URMC co-investigators on the committee include Benjamin Chapman, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of psychiatry, and Jianhui Zhong, PhD, a professor of imaging sciences. Together, the group will organize activities around five core areas: investigator engagement, strategic priority workshops, a resource repository, evaluation, and pilot project grants. All of the core functions will serve to disseminate the products of the network.

Building an inter-university and transdisciplinary network of investigators with complementary areas of expertise is crucial, said Lin, noting that the network will take a cross-species approach and conduct research on both human and animal subjects in order to broaden understanding of brain mechanisms and develop therapeutic targets for addressing aging-associated concerns of emotional well-being.

Using behavioral and brain imaging measures in animal models and comparing those findings to humans, researchers will look to match the observable biomarkers in both, ultimately linking those back to the emotional states. "There are technical challenges to this, we must consider the constraints of the evolutionary distance between the different brain systems, and there must be constant dialogue between the human and animal researchers," Wang said. "But if we do this, it will allow us access to a more subjective aspect of emotional well-being, something that has not been achieved before."

Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias affects more than 5 million people in the U.S. and more than 47 million people worldwide, according to the NIH. There are no known treatments to prevent or stop the progression of dementia, and the toll on individuals, caregivers, and society will continue to increase as the population ages unless effective interventions can be developed.

Previous research has established an association between emotional well-being and select aspects of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, but it's unclear whether dementia pathologies are a cause, byproduct, or consequence of declines in mental and emotional health.

"Many people don't realize that older adults on average are more satisfied with their lives than younger people, in spite of the inevitable stressors that aging brings," said Conwell. "NEW Brain Aging will help us understand the neural mechanisms underlying that resilience and yield insights into how best to help those who are in distress."

"The objective of the network is to engage a wide range of investigators in collaborative thinking and research in order to build the field," said Lin. "We want to be the leaders in the study of the neuromechanisms of emotional well-being and accumulate resources, data, and expertise that can then be provided to networks or other individuals interested in further developing this area of research."

April Aycock Named Office of Mental Health Director for Monroe County

Thursday, January 28, 2021

April AycockThis past August, April Aycock, Ed.D, MS, LMHC, CASAC achieved the educational milestone of completing her doctoral degree in executive leadership from St. John Fisher College. Dr. Aycock has now decided to take the next big step in her career and accepted the position of Office of Mental Health Director for Monroe County. Although we are saddened she has been recruited away from Strong Recovery and the Department of Psychiatry, we are extremely proud to have one of our own fulfill this vital role in our field for the entire county. April has 13½ years of experience in various mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment settings. Her experience across the behavioral health spectrum will be of great benefit to our field and the community.

For the past year and a half, April has led the development and operations of our newest Strong Recovery clinic to provide specialized services for adolescents and young adults (AYA). Prior to the implementation of AYA, she led the integration of SUD services within our Department's Child & Adolescent Outpatient clinic (at the time at Science Parkway) for about 2 years. In her role as Clinical Coordinator of the AYA clinic, she continued to provide supervision and consult for integrated adolescent SUD services in our department. April joined Strong Recovery and the University of Rochester almost 5 years ago and her passion for adolescent co-occurring disorder services was the driving force behind the development of our AYA clinic. Although she is moving on to the next stage of her career, her legacy remains in the clinic as we continue to grow adolescent services. April's contributions to the Department of Psychiatry also expands to her advocacy for improving diversity in our system as a member of the DICE Board. Although we will surely miss her numerous contributions to Strong Recovery and Psychiatry as a whole, we are very happy for her advancement to this new leadership appointment with Monroe County.

April's last day with us will be 2/19/21. After that date, Julie Achtyl will manage interim coverage for AYA clinic and can be reached for clinical operations issues until a permanent replacement is announced. Please join me in congratulating Dr. April Aycock on this momentous appointment and wish her the best for the significant work ahead as we continue to transform behavioral health services in our community!

New Military Suicide Prevention Program Expands into Air Force Bases

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Peter A. Wyman, PhD and colleagues have been funded by the Department of Defense for 15 months to prepare their Wingman-Connect Program (W-C)-- a universal suicide and depression prevention program--for expansion into operational Air Force bases.

The W-C Program is a new military suicide prevention program focused on strengthening unit cohesion, shared purpose, and healthy relationships through a six-hour group training. In comparison to current military suicide prevention programming which focuses on high-risk groups, the W-C Program targets the full population of Air Force trainees across the continuum of risk.

A recently completed cluster randomized controlled trial with 1,485 Airmen in 215 technical training classes found W-C reduced suicidal ideation, depression symptoms, and occupational fitness problems for Airmen during training (1-month follow-up); reduced depression extended into 1st base assignment.

December 2020 Publications

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Resources for Assessing Catatonia

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Catatonia ResourcesCatatonia can be challenging to assess for a variety of reasons, but perhaps the most pressing reason of all is that comprehensive educational materials on catatonia assessment simply have not existed. Our Collaborative Care and Wellness Division recently partnered with Andrew Francis, PhD, MD, senior author of the Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale (BFCRS), to create free online training resources for trainees and psychiatrists on using the BFCRS to assess for catatonia.

Read More: Resources for Assessing Catatonia