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Latino Recovery Colectivo

Who Are We?

We are a group of individuals who are passionate about behavioral health recovery advocacy. We are a collective of professionals, family members, people in recovery, and community members who are interested in clinical practice, research, training and education. All are welcome to join!

Silvia Abad-Merino

University of Córdoba (Spain)

Silvia Abad-Merino (Ph.D. in Applied Psychology) is a Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Córdoba, Spain. Her research is focused on the systematic study of how subtle forms of bias maintain structural disadvantage for ethnic minorities and women; the evaluation of inequitable outcomes of different vulnerable populations in educational and health settings; and the enhancement of equity development, inclusion and effective cross-cultural communication in global intercultural societies. Her academic and research trajectory show a deep commitment to issues of social justice and empowering members of traditionally disadvantaged groups through education and community involvement.

Julio Ballestas, MD

Dr. Ballestas has a wide experience working with immigrants, refugees and underserved communities. He has worked in Global Mental Health with focus African and Latin-American Countries. Today, Dr. Ballestas owns a practice in New York where he focuses on treating mental health in a more natural and holistic way. He integrates conventional medicine with functional medicine where he combines genetics, nutrition, mindfulness meditation and positive lifestyles to achieve a physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. His practice is in a wellness center where multiple medical and healing modalities work in harmony.

Dr. Julio Ballestas is a board-certified psychiatrist who integrates conventional medicine with complementary & natural medicine to promote a general wellbeing. Dr. Ballestas received his M.D degree from the Universidad del Norte in Colombia, completed his psychiatric training at Albert Einstein School of medicine, his psychodynamic psychotherapy training at New York medical College and a fellowship in public and community psychiatry that Yale School of Medicine. He is a fellow of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and an active member of the Institute of Functional medicine (IFM).

Chyrell Bellamy, MSW, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Program for Recovery and Community Health

Chyrell Bellamy serves as the Director of Peer Services and Research for Yale PRCH. She has experience as a frontline service provider, community educator and organizer, as a community and academic researcher, and as a person in recovery. Her expertise includes developing and conducting community-based research initiatives; involving and partnering with people living with mental illness, substance use, and HIV; and research on sociocultural experiences and pathways to recovery in prevention and treatment. Bellamy received her Ph.D. in the Joint program in Social Work and Social Psychology from the University of Michigan and her M.S.W. (health social work) and B.A. (psychology) from Rutgers University. She did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Mental Health and Criminal Justice Research at Rutgers University. In her capacity as Director of Peer Services and Research, Bellamy provides instruction on peer curricula development and training based on her research and practice experience with peer employees; training of peers to conduct research; evaluation of the effectiveness of peer support; and, research and training on the development of culturally responsive community-based interventions.

Mark Costa, MD

Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

Mark Costa, MD, MPH, is currently an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Department of Psychiatry, Program for Recovery and Community Health. Dr. Costa served 18 years as a psychiatrist in Brazil, where he also completed his Masters in Public Health. Dr. Costa’s research and practical interest relates to Integrated Health Care, Culture, Employment and Community Reentry for people with mental illness and substance abuse challenges.

Larry Davidson, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry; Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
Director, Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

My research and consultation/training work focuses on processes of recovery from and in serious mental illnesses and addictions and the development and evaluation of innovative policies and programs to promote the recovery and community inclusion of individuals with these conditions. We utilize mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, and typically conduct our research in a participatory and inclusive fashion that involves people in recovery and other stakeholders in all aspects and phases of the research process.

Esperanza Diaz, MD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine
Medical Director, Hispanic Clinic, Connecticut Mental Health Center

Esperanza Diaz MD, psychiatrist, is Associate Professor of Psychiatry, at the Yale University School of Medicine. Esperanza is the Medical Director of the Hispanic Clinic of CMHC and the Latino Behavioral Health system, academic and community collaborations, serving monolingual Hispanics in the New Haven, CT area. She has established a national and international reputation as a leader in Latino behavioral health, as evidenced by her active involvement within professional organizational committees, invited presentations, National Institute of Health committees, teaching, and consultation around service delivery. She has been indispensable for the development of innovative models of culturally competent, recovery oriented psychiatric and primary care services serving the monolingual Spanish speakers population. Her research expertise in the area of adherence to behavioral health treatments in minorities evolved into cross-cultural research, teaching methods on psychiatric diagnosis, treatment response, health service delivery and health disparities applied to services development. As the Associate Program Director for the Yale psychiatry residency she provides unique trainings for numerous health care disciplines including medical school, psychiatry, psychology, social work, and nursing. Trainees are exposed to cutting edge clinical interventions, and recovery oriented services development for underserved minority populations. Through these positions, and her national collaborations she has established a reputation as a model clinician and educator for Hispanic and women faculty.

Graziela do Carmo Reis

Graziela do Carmo Reis, is a Psychologist and has completed a masters in public health. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, training, and management in health care/mental health. Clinical work focused on trauma, foster care, domestic violence, and adolescents in conflict with the law. From 1999 to 2011 Graziela worked as a psychologist, professor and health care administrator in Brazil. Graziela developed and coordinated trainings in Brazil as a consultant of the federal health system. From 2004 to 2007 she was nominated vice president of the board of phycology on the state of Minas Gerais. From 2015 to 2016 she worked in a mentoring program for children under DCF care. In 2016, Graziela become Parent Support Coordinator of Therapeutic Foster care Program, and IRCC member. In 2017, Graziela was the guest editor of the mental health journal in Brazil in 2017. Extensive experience in community leadership.

Ana Florence

PhD Candidate (UNESP/Assis)
Postgraduate Fellow, Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

Ana Florence is a Psychologist and a PhD Candidate at the State University of São Paulo/Brazil. She is currently a Postgraduate Fellow at the Yale Department of Psychiatry, Program for Recovery and Community Health. Ana specialized in Public Mental Health at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and completed a masters degree in Social Psychology at the University of São Paulo (USP). She has worked as a Psychologist and Clinical Director at community mental health services in Brazil and has experience in the field of deinstitutionalization and service implementation. Her research is focused on the Open Dialogue approach and Dialogical Practices in the treatment of severe mental health problems.

Natalia M. Gómez S., MD., Psiquiatra - CES

Doctoral Candidate, Autonomous University, Barcelona, Spain

Natalia is a Psychiatrist graduated from CES University (Medellín, Colombia) who from the beginnings as a general practitioner was drawn to work with community mental health. Natalia completed a master's degree in psychosocial rehabilitation in mental health at the Autonomous University of Psychiatry, in Barcelona, Spain, where she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Psychiatry. She has deepen the knowledge in the area of psychosocial rehabilitation in mental health at the Peré Mata Institute, in Reus, Spain. She begins the exercise of psychiatry with a view to applying rehabilitative interventions in her country managing a Foundation for this purpose, and conducts psycho-educational groups for patients and family members with severe mental illness. She has some publications in local magazines about rehabilitation interventions in Colombia.

Angels González-Ibáñez

Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

Angels Gonzalez-Ibanez, PhD in Psychology and Clinical Psychologist with strong focus on health promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery of mental illness and addiction. Long tenure as Professor of Psychopathology at the University of Barcelona. Dr. Angels Gonzalez-Ibanez is Adjunct Professor at Yale University, Department of Psychiatry. She currently provides culturally appropriate services to the diversity of Latino community in Connecticut. Dr. Gonzalez-Ibanez started and leaded the Catalonia Pathological Gambling Services under the Mental Health and Addiction Department of the Catalonia Government getting that gambling disorder was considered as a public health issue and it was included in the public health centers. She has received awards por excellence in research and clinical care in mental health an addiction. Due her interest in recovery, person centered care and community inclusion of individuals with mental health and addiction disorders, she is at Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health involved in national and international projects.

Maria O'Connell, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine

Maria O’Connell, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Research and Evaluation at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH). Dr. O’Connell has provided oversight and quality assurance for collaborative research and evaluation projects conducted at PRCH since 2002. She has an extensive background in conducting research on recovery-related topics, including psychiatric advance directives, self-determination and choice, recovery-oriented services, housing and other community based programs, as well as expertise in the development of data management systems, statistical analysis, and program evaluation. Dr. O’Connell currently has an NIMH R01 examining the adoption and diffusion of person-centered and recovery-oriented practices among community mental health centers nationwide.

María Elena Oliva, LCSW

Director of Social Work, Connecticut Mental Health Center

Marίa Elena Oliva, LCSW is the Director of Social Work at the Connecticut Mental Health Center in New Haven, CT (DMHAS). She is currently a doctoral candidate at the Smith College School of Social Work where she is exploring the impact of bilingualism on supervision and clinical training of the bilingual social worker. As a child immigrant to the United States from Cuba, Marίa Elena has lived and been educated within the duet of two languages. She believes that it is these voices that always remind her of home, that speak to her in the language of the heart. Marίa Elena has presented on the impact of therapy in the second language at two NASW annual conferences, groups of psychotherapy practitioners, and to several university groups.

Maria E. Restrepo-Toro, BNS, M.S., CPRP

Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

Maria E. Restrepo-Toro is an Educator and Trainer at the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. Maria is a Visionary Leader, Trainer and Researcher in the field of Latino Behavioral Health Recovery, Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Cultural Diversity. She has earned recognition as a leader in the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and received the USPRA 2012 Leroy Spaniol Educator Award. Maria is passionate about eliminating disparities, empowering people to recover, and gain equal access to behavioral health services. For the last 30 years, Maria she has been successfully trained bilingual professionals, administrators, peers, advocates and family members both nationally and internationally. She has a unique expertise in developing culturally appropriate recovery-oriented training materials designed to bring hope and to empower Spanish-speaking people and their families.

Michelle A. Silva, PsyD

Hispanic Clinic, Connecticut Mental Health Center

Michelle Silva is a licensed clinical psychologist and Director of the Connecticut Latino Behavioral Health System, an academic-community partnership designed to expand access to behavioral health services for the monolingual Spanish speaking community of greater New Haven. Dr. Silva’s work bridges practice, education, and clinical research, and she engages in multidisciplinary collaborations designed to promote health equity among vulnerable and underserved communities. Based at the Hispanic Clinic of the Connecticut Mental Health Center, Dr. Silva provides clinical services to individuals affected by immigration-related trauma and supervises health professional students providing psychoeducational interventions through the Behavioral Health Program of the Yale HAVEN Free Clinic.

Michael Rowe, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine
Co-Director, Program for Recovery and Community Health
Principal Investigator, Citizens Community Collaborative, Yale Department of Psychiatry

Much of my research and writing over the past 20 years concerns “citizenship” as an applied theoretical framework for the social inclusion and participation of people with mental illnesses. Citizenship, in my and my colleagues’ work is defined as a person's strong connection to the 5 Rs of rights, responsibilities, roles, resources, and relationships that society offers its recognized members, along with a sense of belonging that is validated by others. This research is organized under the Citizens Community Collaborative (CCC) at the Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) of the Department of Psychiatry and Connecticut Mental Health Center. Study/intervention components with DMHAS funding include the Citizens Project, a 6-month intervention for people with mental illness and previous incarcerations; community-connection work including Project Connect and F.A.C.E.; financial health and empowerment supports; measurement, clinical tools, and manual development; and a statewide learning collaborative to take citizenship to scale in Connecticut. Among other funders are NIMH and the Melville Charitable Trust.

Related to this work is my past and continuing writing and research on homelessness and mental health outreach, and peer-informed interventions for people with mental illness. I also write and have conducted research in the areas of narrative medicine, patient-doctor relationships, high-technology medicine, and medical errors. I am also conducting research on interventions to support “motive control” for people with strong revenge feelings against those who have wronged them.

Janice Tondora, PsyD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine

Dr. Janis Tondora is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. Based at the Program for Recovery and Community Health, Dr. Tondora functioned for several years as Project Director for an NIMH-funded R-01 study titled Culturally Responsive Person-Centered Care for Psychosis. Her professional interests focus on the design, implementation, and evaluation of services that promote self-determination, recovery, and community inclusion among individuals diagnosed with serious behavioral health disorders. In addition to her role at PRCH, she works closely with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to promote the transfer of academic research into the public-sector behavioral health system. She has coordinated a number of statewide training, technical assistance, and consultation initiatives regarding the provision of recovery-oriented care, person-centered planning, and best-practice employment supports. This activity includes her role as Principal Investigator on a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services grant implementing and evaluating person-centered planning models in State public sector behavioral health systems.

Dr. Tondora has collaborated with PRCH faculty and DMHAS leadership to develop a series of practice guidelines, program standards, and recovery-specific provider competencies. In recognition of her work, she has been invited to participate as a steering committee member of the SAMHSA National Consensus-Building Initiative on Person-Centered Care, and she has been providing training and consultation to numerous states seeking to develop person-centered planning models and programs. Dr. Tondora has shared her work with the field in numerous publications including a recent book co-authored with several colleagues entitled A Practical Guide to Recovery-Oriented Practice: Tools for Transforming Mental Health Care.

Prior to her involvement in behavioral health, she worked as a consultant providing services to public and private agencies, school districts, families, and individuals with disabilities. These services were designed to promote the full inclusion of individuals in all aspects of classroom and community life: an objective that remains at the core of her current work in behavioral health.