Brain Science and Updates From the Field

National Institute of Mental Health Releases Strategic Plan

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The impact of mental health on the American society is often expressed through statistics which are sobering – if not staggering:

  • One in four adults will experience a mental illness in any given year
  • One in five children will experience a seriously debilitating mental disorder at some point in their life
  • Nearly two-thirds of state and federal inmates meet criteria for mental health problems in any given year
  • Suicide is the No. 4 cause of death for adults ages 18-25.
  • More people pay for care related to mental disorders than any other medical condition except for asthma – more than heart conditions and cancer combined.
  • Costs associated with serious mental illness in America exceed $300 billion per year, between direct (treatment and services) and indirect (public expenditure, lost wages and disability support).

At the same time, recent advancements in brain research and understanding about mental illness are just as dramatic, leading to more nuanced treatments and overwhelmingly improved outcomes.

At the intersection of mental health research and statistics lives the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the 27 institutes or centers of the National Institute of Health, the nation’s medical research agency.

Charged with the mission of transforming the American landscape of mental health treatment and research, the NIMH recently issued a new five-year strategic plan for research designed to help balance urgent mental health care concerns with long-term research investments.

“A strategic plan can identify the most important problems and identify areas of traction,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D., in the Institute’s March 26 release to the public. “This update of our strategic plan is a commitment to take a fresh look at our horizons so that we can refine priorities and energize our path of discovery.”

Incorporating input from more than 600 individuals, groups, organizations and national mental health councils, the new plan identifies four meta-level strategic objectives:

  1. Define the mechanisms of complex behaviors.
  2. Chart mental illness trajectories to determine when, where and how to intervene.
  3. Strive for prevention and cures.
  4. Strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research.

These four objectives form a broad framework for the prioritization of the institute’s research focus – beginning with the fundamental science of the brain and behavior, and ending with public health impact.

Stay tuned as Stairways mental health professionals watch for new research trends which will help transform our friends, family and community members from statistical data points into stories of success and recovery.

The full NIMH Strategic Plan for Research is available online here:

Additional NIMH mental health statistics can be found here:

© 2018 Stairways Behavioral Health. All rights reserved. 2185 West 8th Street · Erie, Pa 16505 · Phone: 814-453-5806 · Fax: 814-453-4757 · Toll-free: 1-888-453-5806 · Contact Us · Sitemap