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NIH 1999 Almanac/The Organization/NIMH/      

National Institute of Mental Health : Mission


The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) can be stated forthrightly and simply: To understand mind, brain, and behavior, and thereby to reduce the burden of mental illness through research.

At the threshold of the millennium, NIMH research has opened new windows of opportunity in the national effort to reduce the burden of mental illness through research. Sustained investments in basic brain and behavioral science have positioned the institute to exploit recent advances in neuroscience, molecular genetics, behavioral science and brain imaging; to translate new knowledge about fundamental processes into researchable clinical questions; and to initiate innovative clinical trials of new pharmacological and psychosocial interventions, with emphasis on testing their effectiveness in the diagnostically complex, diverse group of patients typically encountered in front-line service delivery systems. NIMH is also initiating an effort in translating results from basic behavioral science into research relevant to public health, including the epidemiology of mental disorders, prevention and early intervention research, and mental health service research.

Ultimately a wide variety of disciplines will be required to translate basic findings into the design and evaluation of treatments and treatment delivery strategies, that are relevant and responsive to the needs of persons with and at risk for mental illness. A thrust of this research will be to eliminate the effects of disparities that impinge on the mental health status of all Americans, including women, children, elderly people, and ethnic/cultural minority groups.

In this era of opportunity, NIMH recommits its scientific programs to education and training of future mental health researchers, including scientists trained in molecular science, cognitive and affective neuroscience, and other disciplines urgently needed in studies of mental illness and the brain.

Mechanisms of Support. The NIMH provides leadership at a national level for research on brain, behavior, and mental illness.

The institute provides grants-in-aid to public and private institutions and individuals in fields related to its areas of interest, including research project and research center grants and contracts. Also conducted is a diversified program of intramural and collaborative research in its own laboratories and clinics.

NIMH's informational and educational activities include the dissemination of information and educational materials on mental illness to health professionals and the public, and close partnerships with professional associations; international, national, state, and local officials; and voluntary organizations working in the areas of mental health and mental illness.


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