Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies
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Our Mission:

To enhance the mental health of children and families through scientific research and the dissemination of empirical evidence.

About Us:

CICFS is the research office located at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children, the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within VCU's department of Psychiatry. CICFS provides state-of-the art research and program evaluation designed to improve mental health services to children, adolescents, and families.

The Institute also provides evidence-based clinical and prevention training, offers technical assistance and consultation services, and disseminates research findings.

The Institute is staffed by professionals from a variety of disciplines including psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics, mental health counseling, public health, and business. The staff works closely with clinicians, researchers, parents, families, and advocacy groups to address mental health issues and needs. 


Selected Publications

Mason, M.J.,Campbell, L., Way, T., Keyser-Marcus, L., Benotsch, E.G., Mennis, J., Zhang, J., King, L., May, J., & Stembridge, D.(in press).Development and Outcomes of a Text Messaging Tobacco Cessation Intervention with Urban Adolescents. Substance Abuse.

Mason, M.J., Campbell, L., King, L., Sonenklar, N. (in press). Adolescent Peer Problems Influence on the Relationship Between Substance Use and Psychiatric Symptoms. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.

Mason, M. J. , Zaharakis, N., & Benotsch, E. (2014). Social Networks, substance use, and mental health in college students. Journal of American College Health. 62, 7, 470-477.

Mason, M.J., Benotsch, E., Way, T., Kim, H., Snipes, D. (2014). Text Messaging to Increase Readiness to Change Alcohol Use in College Students. Journal of Primary Prevention, 35, 1, 47-52. 

Mason, M., Ola, B., Zaharakis, N., & Zhang, J. (2014). Text messaging interventions for adolescent and young adult substance use: A meta-analysis. Prevention Science.

Mason, M. J., Campbell, L., Zaharakis, N., Foster, R., & Richards, S. (2014). Levels of teen dating violence and substance use in an urban emergency department. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 0, 1-6.

Mason, M., Mennis, J., Linker, J., Bares, C., & Zaharakis, N. (2014). Peer Attitudes Effects on Adolescent Substance Use: The Moderating Role of Race and Gender. Prevention Science. 15,1, 56-64.

Mason, M. J., Keyser-Marcus, L., Benotsch, E., & Sood, B. (2013). Perceived mental health treatment need and substance use correlates among young adults. Psychiatric Services, 64, 871-877.

Mason, M., Schmidt, C., & Mennis, J. (2012). Dimensions of Religiosity and Access to Religious Social Capital: Correlates with Substance Use Among Urban Adolescents. Journal of Primary Prevention. 33, 5, 229-237.

Mennis, J. & Mason, M. (2012). Social and Geographic Contexts of Adolescent Substance Use: The Moderating Effects of Age and Gender Social Networks. Social Networks. 34, 150-157.

Mason, M., Pate, P., Drapkin, M., & Sozinho, K. (2011). Motivational interviewing integrated with social network counseling for female adolescents: A randomized pilot study in urban primary care. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 41, 148-155.

Mason, M. J., Mennis, J., & Schmidt, C. D. (2011). A social operational model of urban adolescents’ tobacco and substance use: A mediational analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 1055-1063.

Mennis, J. & Mason, M. (2011). People, Places, and Adolescent Substance Use: Integrating Activity Space and Social Network Data for Analyzing Health Behavior. The Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 101(2): 272-291

Mason, M. J. (2010). Mental health, school problems, and social networks: Modeling urban adolescent substance use. J Primary Prevent, 31, 321-331.

Mason, M. (2010). Attributing Activity Space as Risky and Safe: The Social Dimension to the Meaning of Place for Urban Adolescents. Health and Place, 16, 926-933.

Mason, M., Valente, T., Coatsworth, J.D., Mennis, J., Lawrence, F., & Zelenak, P. (2010). Place-Based Social Network Quality and Correlates of Substance Use Among Urban Adolescents. Journal of Adolescence. 33, (3), 419-427.

Mason, M. & Mennis, J. (2010). An Exploratory Study of the Effects of Neighborhood Characteristics on Adolescent Substance Use. Addiction Research & Theory. 18, 1, 33-50.

Mason, M., Korpela, K. Coatsworth, J.D., Mennis, J., Valente, T., Lawrence, F. Pate, P., & Pomponio, A. (2010). Patterns of Place Based Self-Regulatory Experiences and Associated Mental Health of Urban Adolescents. Journal of Community Psychology. 38, 2, 155-171.

Mason, M., Schmidt, C., Abraham, A., Walker, L. & Tercyak, K. (2009). Adolescents’ Social Environment and Depression: Social Networks, Extracurricular Activity, and Family Relationship Influences. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 16, 346-354.

Mason, M., Mennis, J., Lawrence, F. Coatsworth, J.D., Valente, T. & Pate, P. (2009). The Relationship of Place to Substance use and Perceptions of Risk and Safety in Urban Adolescents. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 4, 485-492.

Mason, M. J. (2009). Social Network Characteristics of Urban Adolescents in Brief Substance Abuse Treatment. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 18, 1. 72-84.

Mason, M. & Posner, M. (2009). Brief Substance Abuse Treatment with Urban Adolescents: A Translational Research Study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 18, 2. 193-206.

Mason, M.J. & Korpela, K. (2009). Activity Spaces and Urban Adolescent Substance Use and Emotional Health. Journal of Adolescence. 32, 925-939.

Mason, M., Cheung, I., & Walker, L. (2004). Substance Use, Social Networks and the Geography of Urban Adolescents. Substance Use and Misuse, 39, 10-12, 1751-1778.