Deborah Cohen, Ph.D., MSW, is a mental health services researcher and policy expert. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Dell Medical School and a research assistant professor in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. Dr. Cohen is the Executive Director of the Amplify Center and the Co-Director of the Center for Youth Mental Health. Prior to her work at The University of Texas at Austin, she served as a community mental health administrator and clinician for over 10 years. 

Cohen’s research focuses on understanding and reforming community mental health system policies, programs and practices. Cohen has successfully partnered with multiple providers and state systems to examine system, program and practice barriers to effective care delivery — and to apply innovation, including new technologies, to improve access, engagement and outcomes for youth with emerging serious mental illnesses. Her work centers on the transition to adulthood and reforming disability policy to ensure that older youth and young adult mental health needs are met. 

Cohen is actively reforming the Texas mental health early intervention landscape through her creation of the new Amplify Center, a first of its kind young adult specific mental health clinic co-located at Austin Community College Eastview campus. She also serves as a Co-I for the Texas Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET-TX), which aims to develop models of effective delivery of coordinated specialty care services for early psychosis across public mental health in the State of Texas. Additionally, through her work at the Austin State Hospital Redesign, Cohen is partnering with community stakeholders to create a research-informed continuum of mental health care for individuals who experience the intersection between the mental health and criminal justice system.  

Outside of work, Cohen is an active disability advocate on behalf of her child who has Down syndrome. 

Curriculum Vitae

Professional Interests

Behavioral health services research, transition-aged youth, health information technology, integrated healthcare, care coordination, behavioral health policy, disability policy, implementation science.