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External Reviews Give High Marks to Collaborative Relationship Between USF's FMHI and COPH

For many years, CFS’s Bruce Levin has worked with the College of Public Health (COPH) to develop degree programs with a concentration in behavioral health services. Having come from a background in both mental health and public health, Dr. Levin was interested in forming a partnership between FMHI and COPH to jointly offer behavioral health as part of the Master’s and Doctoral programs in the COPH Department of Community & Family Health (CFH). What began more than twenty years ago with a few courses developed by Levin is now a successful partnership that has resulted in the establishment of only the second program within a U.S. school of public health that offers master’s and doctoral degrees with a concentration in behavioral health.

The strengths of the partnership and program were evident recently when CFH asked external reviewers to conduct an extensive review of the department. As a joint faculty member and Chair of the Behavioral Health Concentration Committee (which includes Tom Massey of CFS along with Roger Boothroyd from FMHI’s Department of Mental Health Law & Policy), Dr. Levin and the Committee met with the external reviewers to discuss a number of topics, including teaching, research, and the relationship of FMHI & the COPH.

Near the end of the session, the reviewers shared with the Committee what they observed were strengths of CFH: the maternal & child health concentration; the program in social marketing; and the behavioral health concentration.

“Needless to say, since I have spent many years developing the Behavioral Health Concentration, I was really thrilled to receive the support and encouragement from the external reviewers regarding the importance of behavioral health within the field of public health, particularly in light of the fact that these external reviewers are nationally known public health academicians and researchers,” said Dr. Levin. “The reviewers acknowledged that out of approximately 38 schools of public health in the United States, only one other school of public health (John Hopkins University) currently offered a concentration of courses and degrees in mental health. The reviewers concluded by saying that FMHI/COPH’s collaborative Graduate Studies in Behavioral Health Program at USF is in a strategic and unique position in the U.S. and should continue to be strengthened.”

“Their findings validate that the significant time and efforts spent developing both the Behavioral Health Concentration as well as nurturing the collaborative relationship between FMHI and the COPH has been very worthwhile,” added Dr. Levin.

In 1985 Dr. Levin began to develop the first mental health courses offered through COPH and in the ensuing years, as more courses were developed and more FMHI faculty began teaching these courses, Levin developed the Behavioral Health Concentration in the Department of CFH. In 2002, the USF Graduate Council formally approved the Behavioral Health Concentration, and students were admitted for the MPH and MSW/MPH Dual Degree programs in 2003. Also in 2003, students who declared a Behavioral Health Focus for the MSPH and PhD degree programs were admitted.

Interim Dean Bob Friedman is also very proud of the partnership between FMHI and COPH, and the leadership shown by Dr. Levin. According to Dr. Friedman, "this is one of many important partnerships between FMHI and departments and colleges throughout USF. We are very committed to the importance of transdisciplinary approaches if we are to achieve our mission, and to working with our colleagues in other colleges, such as Arts & Sciences and Education as well. We are also looking to build new partnerships with colleagues in the College of Business Administration, the College of Nursing, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the School of Architecture."

For additional information about the Graduate Studies in Behavioral Health Program, visit http://publichealth.usf.edu/cfhdegrees.html, or contact Dr. Bruce Levin at 813-974-6400 or email levin@fmhi.usf.edu.

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