Division of Public Psychiatry

State human service agencies manage increasingly large and complex systems of care. This requires an increasingly sophisticated workforce and decision support infrastructure. Few states have the resources to develop these important elements. Forming strategic collaborations with academic institutions that have service, education and research as priorities is one way for a state human service agency to develop a comprehensive, statewide infrastructure for services augmentation, workforce education and training, and policy-relevant mental health services research. The Division of Public Psychiatry within the UVM Department of Psychiatry was created in 2004 as a public-academic liaison between the Vermont Agency of Human Services Department of Mental Health and the Department of Psychiatry, UVM/The University of Vermont Medical Center. The goal was and is to establish a partnership between the state and the University in order to improve access and availability of psychiatric services in Vermont and facilitate recruitment and retention of high caliber psychiatrists and other behavioral health professionals to provide service, training and research in the public sector.

Current Projects

  • Veteran's Jail Diversion Project
     As part of a public-private partnership with the Vermont Agency of Human Services Department of Mental Health, this project will create, deploy and maintain an extensive electronic behavioral health care management system for veterans and other persons with trauma-related illness, traumatic brain injury, serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. Our objective is to seamlessly integrate clinical care for these individuals at all levels of the "real world" system. In addition, this project will facilitate regulatory management, guide clinical practices and create a clinical outcomes data warehouse for retrospective and prospective decision support regarding clinical, administrative and financial matters. Funded through SAMHSA: $2.1 million.

  • Attention Training for Persons with Serious Mental Illness (Pilot Study)
    Attention training is a process by which various components of attention are evaluated and improved. Many persons with serious mental illness have deficits in at least one of these areas and often display behavioral and cognitive difficulties. We use a series of children's computer games in order to assess attention and anticipatory capacity. Our pilot program indicates that at least some persons with serious mental illness not only are able to participate in attention training but enjoy doing so and would recommend it to patient peers. We are exploring the possibility that graded exposure to attention training may improve functioning regarding everyday tasks that require focus and anticipation of future events. This may prove to be a useful tool to improve function and quality of life for certain individuals.


Thomas Simpatico, M.D.