The Serious Mental Illness Lab serves as a conduit for fostering multidisciplinary and community collaboration, and bolstering high-impact research on vulnerable and understudied populations. The  is positioned to advance the school’s position among the leading institutions that promote the implementation of recovery-based psychosocial interventions in real-world settings. The core Lab faculty members have an established history of federally funded research involving collaboration and partnerships with local community-based agencies. TheLab uniquely harnesses the research expertise of faculty specializing in addressing the needs of multicultural populations in urban settings.


The mission of the Serious Mental Illness Lab is to stimulate cutting-edge research on building, testing, implementing and sustaining community-based psychosocial interventions in public sector human service settings. This work is set in the unique urban and multicultural context of Los Angeles, with specific attention to transitional age youth, adults, older adults and their families. We aim to generate knowledge that is scientifically rigorous and that is grounded in and relevant to usual care service settings. We will accomplish this by developing the capacities and careers of doctoral candidates, post-doctoral fellows and faculty affiliated with the Lab through training, mentoring, collaboration and an embedded approach to working with community-based agencies.

Lab Functions

  • Generate externally supported research that promotes the Lab mission.
  • Support and develop the research careers of Lab faculty and students through Lab activities. This career development will be individually tailored, but will be assessed in terms of grant submissions, publications, scientific and public presentations, and job placement.
  • Participate in and contribute to the training programs organized in the Hamovitch Center for Science in the Human Services to increase the scientific validity and national and international prominence of the School of Social Work as a leading research institution in the field of serious mental illness.
  • Develop and sustain innovative multidisciplinary research through collaborations within and across institutions and community agencies.

Lab Activities

  • Plan and develop innovative research projects that capitalize on the Lab’s existing studies, as well as launch new projects that correspond with the research and funding priorities of the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse and other federal and large funding sources.
  • Individual and group mentoring focused on preparing pre-docs, post-docs and junior faculty for scientific and academic careers.
  • Group lab meetings that build grantsmanship skills and foster collaboration on projects designed to move the study of serious mental illness in new directions and advance the translation of science into community-based settings.
  • Formal training seminars and colloquia in the context of the Hamovitch Center.

Lab Personnel

Core Faculty: Concepcion Barrio, John Brekke (Co-Director), Ben Henwood,  Ann Marie Yamada (Director)

Doctoral Students: Nick Barr, Karissa Fenwick, Lizbeth Gaona, Paula Helu, Liat Kriegel, Caroline Lim

Research Associates:  Erin Kelly

Administrative Assistant: Ralfh Viloria