The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) today launched a new five-year communications initiative, the Constituency Outreach and Education Program, enlisting state organizations in a nationwide partnership to help close the gap between mental health research and services. The program is a key element in a broader effort by NIMH to deliver science-based information on mental health to the public and health professionals and increase access to research-based, effective treatments.
"This program can help advance the courses of action, proposed in the recent Surgeon General's report on mental health, that will improve the quality of mental health in the nation," said Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D. "These partnering organizations can lend their voices to efforts at the national level to reduce stigma and encourage people with mental disorders to seek treatment."
NIMH Director Steven E. Hyman, M.D., said, "Through strong collaboration, NIMH and state-based organizations can be agents for change in critical areas building a research agenda with relevance to the mental health needs of an increasingly diverse population and closing the gap between what we know and real world practice. Together, we can accomplish our shared goal to decrease the burden of mental illness on consumers, families and the nation as a whole."
NIMH named 18 Outreach Partners in 17 states and the District of Columbia today, following a competitive selection process. Additional partners in the remaining states and Puerto Rico will be named later this year.
Each Outreach Partner will conduct a mental health communications program for the public and health professionals, through media relations, statewide coalition-building and outreach to minorities and special populations such as youth and the elderly. Partners will also sponsor educational efforts focusing on primary care physicians, nurses, employers, and other groups, and will promote recruitment of participants in NIMH-supported clinical studies.
NIMH will provide Outreach Partners with ongoing technical assistance in project-related activities, research updates through annual meetings and the Web, opportunities to network on-line and in regional meetings with other state and national organizations, educational materials, and an annual stipend of $5000. Partners are invited to provide direct feedback to NIMH on its research priorities. Partners will be required to submit progress reports to NIMH.
Several national organizations have a prominent role in the structure of the NIMH Constituency Outreach and Education Program. They include the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association, and the National Mental Health Association. A panel of nationally recognized mental health researchers, clinicians and consumers provides expert assistance to the program. In addition, the program will include an Education Network of some 200 mental health, medical and business groups, whose state or regional affiliates may engage in coalitions with the Outreach Partners.
Organizations interested in responding to the next Request for Proposals can find more information on the NIMH Web site, http://www.outreach.nimh.nih.gov, as it becomes available.
The initial 18 NIMH Outreach Partners are:
The National Institute of Mental Health is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal Government's primary agency for biomedical and behavioral research. NIH is a component of the Department of Health and Human Services.