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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Rutgers Mental Health Initiatives

The Rutgers School of Public Health addresses mental health issues and disparities facing local, national, and global populations though, research, education, and practice.

Rutgers School of Public Health faculty research seeks to understand and address mental health issues as they relate to psychopathology, substance abuse, tobacco use, policy implications, and more. In particular, faculty examine the role that discrimination plays in exacerbating mental health challenges, in marginalized populations such as the incarcerated, sexual minorities, and immigrants. Further, through innovative educational programing, students learn about the disproportionate mental health burdens faced by specific populations, and how the burdens impact overall population health. The newly minted Urban Public Health concentration (coming Fall 2018) will address mental health issues faced by the many diverse communities within Newark, New Jersey, and how  mental health burdens (among other factors), if left untreated and undiagnosed, impact urban health broadly. Whether it be fieldwork or involvement in student groups, many service initiatives at the Rutgers School of Public Health focus on ameliorating mental health issues.  Through fieldwork sites, students have the opportunity to work with community groups and mental health service providers to address mental health issues facing specific populations with varying needs.

The Rutgers School of Public Health is committed addressing mental health disparities, especially under the new leadership of Dr. Perry N. Halkitis.

For over two decades the scholarship of Dr. Halkitis has examined the complex synergy that exists between mental health burdens, substance use, and sexual risk taking in sexual minority men. A self-labeled public health psychologist who also holds a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, he founded the Center for Health Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies that conducts bio-behavioral research on the intersection of mental health with these other health states. Moreover, the center has trained and continues to train countless counseling psychologists and public health researchers focused on the mental health of gay and bisexual individuals who experience a disproportionate mental health burden when compared to the general population.  His work also documents the intimate links between untreated mental health conditions depression and the sexual risk and substance use that untreated depression engenders. More recently, Dr. Halkitis has turned his attention to resilience, believing that models of strength rather than deficit provide a more meaningful framework for working with at risk populations as noted in his 2013 award winning book The AIDS Generation: Stories of Survival and Resilience. As part of the series of studies examining the health of older adults living with HIV, Dean Halkitis has posited a model of resilience that is currently being tested in his GOLD III study. Also editor in chief of Behavioral Medicine, he and his colleague Dr. Ramani Duvasala, have recently overseen the publication of a special issue if the journal examining the understudied role that personality disorders play in affected individual and population health.

In addition to the Urban Public Health concentration, Dr. Halkitis and his colleagues are working towards creating a new certificate in the public health aspects of mental health.