Leopoldo J. Cabassa
Associate Professor of Social Work
PhD, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis
Focus: Hispanics and other racial and ethnic minorities with serious mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, major depression).
Research: NIH-supported studies and over 40 journal articles on racial/ethnic health disparities and the implementation of health interventions for underserved populations with serious mental illness.
Leopoldo J. Cabassa joined the faculty at the School of Social Work in July 2012. He also holds an appointment at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where he is the Assistant Director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Cultural Competence.
Professor Cabassa works in the fields of health and mental health services research for racial and ethnic minorities. Specifically, he conducts studies on ways to reduce the stigma towards mental illness among the Hispanic population, and on developing, testing, and implementing interventions to improve the physical health of under-served populations with serious mental illness. His research program blends quantitative and qualitative methods and community engagement to understand the factors that fuel racial and ethnic inequities in health and mental health care and uses this knowledge to inform the development and implementation of interventions to reduce disparities.
Dr. Cabassa’s work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the New York State Office of Mental Health. Both of his current NIH projects aim to promote the physical health of Hispanics with serious mental illness (SMI):
- Implementing Health Care Interventions for Hispanics with Serious Mental Illness (K01 MH0991188). A Mentored Research Scientist Development Award that has been designed to prepare the candidate for conducting research that addresses the disparities in physical health care faced by underserved minorities with SMI who are also at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- Peer-led Healthy Lifestyle Program in Supportive Housing (R01 MH104574). A study designed to deliver healthy lifestyle interventions to diverse clients with serious mental illness who are overweight or obese, by making Group Lifestyle Balance available through supportive housing agencies and using peer specialists (former clients with lived experience of SMI) as facilitators.
Dr. Cabassa received his M.S.W. and Ph.D. from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis. He began his career as a social work researcher with a post-doctoral fellowship at the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California (USC), where he was also an assistant professor, with a joint appointment at the USC Keck School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Cabassa has taught graduate level courses on research and evaluation methods, foundation of social work practice, and social work with Latino populations. He has reported findings from his research in academic journals and book chapters.