Community-Based Mental Health

Our Research

The Community-Based Mental Health Research Focus Area consists of a collaborative, trans-institutional, and interdisciplinary team of researchers who work with national experts in the area of community mental health. The team includes researchers in the fields of sociology, psychology, public health, psychiatry, family medicine and pharmacy at NEOMED and other universities in Northeast Ohio.

Some researchers work closely with practitioners and programmatic efforts in the Department of Psychiatry at NEOMED. Research faculty have worked for many years with the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJ/CCoE) on research in criminal justice involvement of people with serious and persistent mental illness. There is growing opportunity for research collaboration with programmatic initiatives of the Ohio Program for Campus Safety and Mental Health and the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment Center (BeST Center). These researcher-practitioner partnerships have deepened and broadened the scope of our research focus area.

NEOMED-Based Researchers

Christian Ritter, Ph.D., Director

Dr. Ritter is medical sociologist and social psychologist who studies the relationship between stigma, mental health services and social engagement as they affect recovery and psychological well-being, stress and social relationships, and the effects of crisis intervention teams among people with severe mental illness.

Kristin Baughman, Ph.D.

Dr. Baughman is a medical sociologist. Her research focuses on the burden of chronic diseases, chronic disease management, health behaviors, access to care and premature mortality for people with severe mental illness.

Natalie Bonfine, Ph.D.

Dr. Bonfine is a medical sociologist. Her research interests include stigma and stigma resistance, jail diversion for people with mental illness and cross-systems collaboration and coordination to reduce the overrepresentation of people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system.

Sara Dugan, Pharm.D., BCPP, BCPS

Dr. Dugan is a psychiatric pharmacist. Her interest areas include optimizing pharmacotherapeutic treatment for patients with severe mental illness, managing adverse effects of psychiatric medications to minimize the impact on physical health and training interdisciplinary teams to care for patients with mental illness.

Erik Messamore, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Messamore is a psychiatrist whose work engages both trainees and established clinicians in the dissemination of best practices for the pharmacological treatment of chizophrenia. He is exploring the extent to which telementoring of clinician learning communities may improve health outcomes of schizophrenia-affected individuals.

Mark Munetz, M.D.

Dr. Munetz is a psychiatrist whose areas of scholarship include programs at the interface of the criminal justice, mental health systems, outpatient civil commitment (assisted outpatient treatment), and community based care for schizophrenia.

Ruth Simera, M.Ed., LSW

Simera is director of the CJ CCoE and a licensed social worker. Areas of interest include program evaluation, jail diversion for people with mental illness, effects of Crisis Intervention Teams, and effects of cross-systems collaboration and coordination in reducing the number of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system.

Harry Sivec, Ph.D.

Dr. Sivec is a clinical psychologist and consultant/trainer for the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis program. Areas of interest include program evaluation and methods for improving training and consultation for mental health providers.

Research Collaborators

Richard Adams, Ph.D., Kent State University

Dr. Adams is a medical sociologist with an interest in trauma and mental health. His research has examined the mental health consequences of large community disasters like the World Trade Center terrorists attack on Sept. 11 and on traumatic events for mental health and course of treatment among individuals with a severe mental illness.

Mary Gallagher, Ph.D., Kent State University

Dr. Gallagher is a social psychologist. Her research focuses on the relationships between identity processes, self-evaluation, and psychological distress among individuals in the general population and stigma, services, self, and well-being among people with mental illness living in the community.

Eric Jefferis, Ph.D., Kent State University

Dr. Jefferis is a professor of social and behavioral sciences in the College of Public Health. His research areas include community-based violence prevention programs, offender decision-making processes and youth suicide risk factors.

Kristen Marcussen, Ph.D., Kent State University

Dr. Marcussen is a social psychologist whose research focuses on the relationships among social roles, identities and psychological well-being, stigma and self-concept and the effects of mental health services on quality of life for individuals with mental illness.

Elizabeth Piatt, Ph.D., Kent State University

Dr. Piatt is a medical sociologist whose research interests include social psychological explanations for race disparities in mental and physical health, and conducts evaluations of community programs aimed at addressing those disparities.


Christian Ritter, Ph.D.
Director, Community-Based Mental Health
Phone: 330.325.6165

Community-Based Mental Health Research

Research at NEOMED