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Summer Symposium Spotlight: Imani Breakthrough Project

The Imani Breakthrough Project seeks to address health disparities among Black and Latinx people experiencing harms associated with substance use and addiction. Founded in 2017, the Imani Breakthrough Project brings together researchers, community partners, and key stakeholders to employ faith-based, person-centered harm reduction programs from a culturally informed lens. This program offers wraparound services to individuals delivered by trained church representatives and individuals with lived experience of substance use disorders. Imani Breakthrough incorporates the 8 dimensions of wellness developed by Dr. Swarbrick, Professor and Associate Director CAS GSAPP, endorsed by SAMHSA, culturally informed care, and referrals for pharmacological substance use interventions.

To date, more than 1000 individuals have participated in Imani Breakthrough. Importantly, this program targets barriers in order to increase access to care, particularly medication assisted therapy. Preliminary findings suggest that Imani Breakthrough is an effective model for addressing substance use concerns, as well as broader health, wellness, and community building. This program highlights the importance of community-engaged, culturally informed, holistic approaches to addressing substance use and serves as a model for program development aimed at addressing health inequities.

Dr. Chyrell Bellamy, PhD, MSW, the developer of Imani Breakthrough, will present on the program at the CAS 2023 Summer Symposium. Dr. Bellamy is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine where she serves as the director of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health and director of the Yale Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Academy. In addition to her institutional roles, Dr. Bellamy also serves as a senior policy advisor for the Department of Mental Health in Connecticut. She has marked experience in peer curricula development integrating community- and lived experience-informed care and culturally relevant programing.

Dr. Mark Costa, MD, MPH will join Dr. Bellamy in presenting at the CAS 2023 Summer Symposium. Dr. Costa is an Associate Research Scientist in Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine where, along with Dr. Bellamy, he is a member of the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health and focuses on understanding health disparities, social inclusion, and substance use disorders. Dr. Costa’s research aims to examine the role of lived experience, peer support, and advocacy in improving access to care, quality of interventions, and reducing barriers to care.

Drs. Bellamy and Costa will be presenting at the Summer Symposium hosted by the Rutgers Center of Alcohol and Substance Use Studies. This year’s symposium, “Looking Ahead: Science, Practice, and Advocacy to Meet Emerging Addiction Challenges,” will be held on Wednesday June 14, 2023.  Click here to register.

For more information: Bellamy, C. D., Costa, M., Wyatt, J., Mathis, M., Sloan, A., Budge, M., … & Jordan, A. (2021). A collaborative culturally-centered and community-driven faith-based opioid recovery initiative: the Imani Breakthrough project. Social Work in Mental Health, 19(6), 558-567. doi: 10.1080/15332985.2021.1930329