NAMI Task Force Calls For Stronger, Smarter Investment In Federal Scientific Research on Serious Mental Illnesses To Build on Break-Throughs
$1 Billion Increase Needed Over Next Five Years
Mar 18 2004
Arlington, VA, — The star of the television show, Monk, is not the only detective when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Scientific research by the federal government has moved closer to unlocking the secret of severe mental illnesses, but whether scientists "solve the case" depends on President Bush’s and Congress’s willingness to increase investment to pursue promising new opportunities.
"We need stronger, smarter investment in scientific research on the most severe mental illnesses," said Laura Lee Hall, Ph.D., director of the NAMI Policy Research Institute’s Task Force on Serious Mental Illness Research, upon on release of a 40-page report, Roadmap to Recovery and Cure including a 10-point set of recommendations.
The report is available on-line at www.nami.org/sciencetaskforce.
"The lives of millions of Americans are at stake. Break-throughs are near, but only if we seize opportunities through sustained, focused commitment. We also need better integration of research and service systems to provide effective treatment in the real world."
At a time when the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health has called for major changes in the nation’s mental healthcare system, the report reveals a significant gap between scientific research and treatment services—calling both "totally inadequate—and unnecessarily so." Specifically, it calls for:
- A $1 billion increase in funds for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) over five years.
- A single authority within the federal government to coordinate psychiatric research and services investment, to overcome currently fragmented efforts, which often do not reflect evidence-based practices.
- A Congressional directive for NIMH to prioritize severe mental illness research, with increases percentages in its research portfolio focused on basic, clinical and health care research relevant to the most severe illnesses—and traditionally under-served populations.
In surveying of existing investments, the Task Force found that not a single study has examined bipolar disorder in older Americans—even though older Americans have the highest rate of suicides. For children and adolescents, there is also "little correlation" between treatments known to work and those actually implemented in practice.
"Overall, we applaud the leadership of NIMH director Thomas Insel, M.D., who is working to make a difference and indeed striving to find a cure for schizophrenia as soon as possible," said Hall.
"But NIMH cannot do it alone," Hall said. "Ultimately presidential and congressional leadership is required."
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NAMI: The Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness leads a national grassroots effort to transform America’s mental health care system, combat stigma, support research, and attain adequate health insurance, housing, rehabilitation, jobs and family support for millions of Americans living with mental illnesses. NAMI’s one thousand affiliates are dedicated to public education, advocacy and support and receive generous donations from tens of thousands of individuals as well as grants from government, foundations and corporations. NAMI’s greatest asset, however, is its volunteers—who donate an estimated $135 million worth of their time each year.