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The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is one of 27 institutes and centers that make up the
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health (NIH ) is the primary agency of the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States ...
(NIH). The NIH, in turn, is an agency of the
United States Department of Health and Human Services The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a Cabinet of the United States, cabinet-level United States federal executive departments, executive branch department of the U.S. federal government of the United States, fede ...
and is the primary agency of the United States government responsible for
biomedical Biomedicine (also referred to as Western medicine, mainstream medicine or conventional medicine)
and
health Health, according to the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each ...

health
-related research. NIMH is the largest research organization in the world specializing in
mental illness A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may be persistent, relapsing In internal medici ...
. Joshua A. Gordon is the current director of NIMH. The institute was first authorized by the U.S. government in 1946, when then President Harry Truman signed into law the
National Mental Health Act The National Mental Health Act (1946) became law on July 3, 1946. It established and provided funds for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The act made the mental health of the people a federal priority. It was inspired by alarm at t ...
, although the institute was not formally established until 1949. NIMH is a $1.5 billion enterprise, supporting research on mental health through grants to investigators at institutions and organizations throughout the United States and through its own internal (intramural) research effort. The
mission Mission (from Latin ''missio'' "the act of sending out") may refer to: Religion *Mission (station) A religious mission or mission station is a location for missionary work, in particular a Christian mission. History Historically, missi ...

mission
of NIMH is "to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure." In order to fulfill this mission, NIMH "must foster innovative thinking and ensure that a full array of novel scientific perspectives are used to further discovery in the evolving science of brain, behavior, and experience. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illnesses."


Research priorities

NIMH has identified four overarching strategic objectives for itself: *Promote discovery in the brain and behavioral sciences to fuel research on the causes of mental disorders *Chart mental illness trajectories to determine when, where and how to intervene *Develop new and better interventions that incorporate the diverse needs and circumstances of people with mental illnesses *Strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research


History


Organizational history

NIMH had passed through a series of name changes and organizational arrangements with in the
United States Public Health Service The United States Public Health Service (USPHS or PHS) is a collection of agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), also known as the Health Department, is a ca ...
(PHS) throughout its history: * PHS Narcotics Division (1929–30) * PHS Division of Mental Hygiene (1930–43) * Mental Hygiene Division, within the PHS
Bureau of Medical Services The Bureau of Medical Services (BMS) was a unit of the United States Public Health Service The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) is a division of the Department of Health and Human Services concerned with public health Public h ...
(1943–49) * National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health (NIH ) is the primary agency of the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States ...
(NIH, 1949–67) * NIMH as an independent division of the PHS (1967–68) * NIMH, within the Health Services and Mental Health Administration (1968–73) * NIMH, within NIH (1973) * NIMH, within the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (1973–1992) * NIMH, within NIH (1992–present) In 1992, when the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration was abolished, NIMH was transferred to NIH, retaining its research functions while its treatment services were transferred to the new
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA; pronounced ) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is charged with improving the quality and availability of treatment and rehabilitative services ...
.


Functions

Mental health has traditionally been a state responsibility, but after World War II there was increased lobbying for a
federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
(national) initiative. Attempts to create a National Neuropsychiatric Institute failed. Robert H. Felix, then head of the
Division of Mental Hygiene Division or divider may refer to: Mathematics *Division (mathematics) Division is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the ways that numbers are combined to make new numbers. The other operations are addition, subtraction, and multi ...
, orchestrated a movement to include mental health policy as an integral part of federal biomedical policy. Congressional subcommittees hearings were held and the National Mental Health Act was signed into law in 1946. This aimed to support the research, prevention and treatment of psychiatric illness, and called for the establishment of a
National Advisory Mental Health Council National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a common language, history, ethnicity, or a common culture, and, in many cases, a shared territory. A nation is more overtly political than an ...
(NAMHC) and a National Institute of Mental Health. On April 15, 1949, the NIMH was formally established, with Felix as director. Funding for the NIMH grew slowly and then, from the mid-1950s, dramatically. The institute took on a highly influential role in shaping policy, research and communicating with the public, legitimizing the importance of new advances in biomedical science, psychiatric and psychological services, and community-based mental health policies. In 1955 the Mental Health Study Act called for "an objective, thorough, nationwide analysis and reevaluation of the human and economic problems of mental health." The resulting Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health prepared a report, "Action for Mental Health", resulting in the establishment of a cabinet-level interagency committee to examine the recommendations and determine an appropriate federal response. In 1963, Congress passed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, beginning a new era in Federal support for mental health services. NIMH assumed responsibility for monitoring the Nation's community mental health centers (CMHC) programs. During the mid-1960s, NIMH launched a campaign on special mental health problems. Part of this was a response to President
Lyndon Johnson Lyndon Baines Johnson (; August 27, 1908January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American educator and politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He had previously served as the ...

Lyndon Johnson
's pledge to apply scientific research to social problems. The institute established centers for research on schizophrenia, child and family mental health, suicide, as well as crime and delinquency, minority group mental health problems, urban problems, and later, rape, aging, and technical assistance to victims of natural disasters. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism did not receive full recognition as a major public health problem until the mid-1960s, when the National Center for Prevention and Control of Alcoholism was established as part of NIMH; a research program on drug abuse was inaugurated within NIMH with the establishment of the Center for Studies of Narcotic and Drug Abuse. In 1967, NIMH separated from NIH and was given bureau status within PHS. However, NIMH's intramural research program, which conducted studies in the NIH Clinical Center and other NIH facilities, remained at NIH under an agreement for joint administration between NIH and NIMH.
Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare The United States secretary of health and human services is the head of the United States Department of Health and Human Services The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is a Cabinet of the United States, cabinet-lev ...
John W. Gardner transferred St. Elizabeths Hospital, the Federal Government's only civilian psychiatric hospital, to NIMH. In 1968, NIMH became a component of PHS's
Health Services and Mental Health Administration Health, according to the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, Mental health, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity".World Health Organization. (2006)''Constitution of the World H ...
(HSMHA). In 1970 the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act (P.L. 91-616) established the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism within NIMH. In 1972, the Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act established a National Institute on Drug Abuse within NIMH. In 1973, NIMH went through a series of organizational moves. The institute temporarily rejoined NIH on July 1 with the abolishment of HSMHA. Then, the DHEW secretary administratively established the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) – composed of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and NIMH – as the successor organization to HSMHA. ADAMHA was officially established in 1974. The
President's Commission on Mental Health The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 (MHSA) was United States legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter which provided grants to community mental health centers. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Congress repealed most of the law. ...
in 1977 reviewed the mental health needs of the nation and to make recommendations to the president as to how best meet these needs in 1978. In 1980 The
Epidemiologic Catchment Area Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and risk factor, determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. It is a cornerstone of public health, and shapes policy decisions ...
(ECA) study, an unprecedented research effort that entailed interviews with a nationally representative sample of 20,000 Americans was launched. The field interviews and first wave analyses were completed in 1985. Data from the ECA provided a picture of rates of mental and addictive disorders and services usage. The
Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 (MHSA) was United States legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter which provided grants to community mental health centers. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan and the U.S. Congress repealed most of the law. ...
– based on recommendations of the President's Commission on Mental Health and designed to provide improved services for persons with mental disorders – was passed. NIMH participated in development of the National Plan for the Chronically Mentally Ill, a sweeping effort to improve services and fine-tune various Federal entitlement programs for those with severe, persistent mental disorders. In 1987, administrative control of St. Elizabeth's Hospital was transferred from the NIMH to the District of Columbia. NIMH retained research facilities on the grounds of the hospital. The NIMH Neuroscience Center and the NIMH Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital, located on the grounds of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, were dedicated in 1989. In 1992, Congress passed the ADAMHA Reorganization Act, abolishing ADAMHA. The research components of NIAAA, NIDA and NIMH rejoined NIH, while the services components of each institute became part of a new PHS agency, the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA; pronounced ) is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is charged with improving the quality and availability of treatment and rehabilitative services ...
(SAMHSA). The return to NIH and the loss of services functions to SAMHSA necessitated a realignment of the NIMH extramural program administrative organization. New offices were created for research on Prevention, Special Populations, Rural Mental Health and AIDS. In 1994 The House Appropriations Committee mandated that the director of NIH conduct a review of the role, size, and cost of all NIH intramural research programs (IRP). NIMH and the National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) initiated a major study of the NIMH Intramural Research Program. The planning committee recommended continued investment in the IRP and recommended specific administrative changes; many of these were implemented upon release of the committee's final report; other changes — for example, the establishment of a major new program on Mood and Anxiety Disorders — have been introduced in the years since. In 1996 NIMH, with the NAMHC, initiated systematic reviews of a number of areas of its research portfolio, including the genetics of mental disorders; epidemiology and services for child and adolescent populations; prevention research; clinical treatment and services research. At the request of the National Institute for Mental Health director, the NAMH Council established programmatic groups in each of these areas. NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) continued to implement recommendations issued by these Workgroups. In 1997, NIMH realigned its extramural organizational structure to capitalize on new technologies and approaches to both basic and clinical science, as well as changes that had occurred in health care delivery systems, while retaining the institute's focus on mental illness. The new extramural organization resulted in three research divisions: Basic and Clinical Neuroscience Research; Services and Intervention Research; and Mental Disorders, Behavioral Research and AIDS. Between 1997 and 1999 NIMH refocused career development resources on early careers and added new mechanisms for clinical research. In 1999 The NIMH Neuroscience Center/Neuropsychiatric Research Hospital was relocated from St. Elizabeth's Hospital in
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...
, to the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland, in response to the recommendations of the 1996 review of the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) Intramural Research Program by the IRP Planning Committee. The first White House Conference on Mental Health, held June 7, in Washington, D.C., brought together national leaders, mental health scientific and clinical personnel, patients, and consumers to discuss needs and opportunities. The National Institute on Mental Health developed materials and helped organize the conference. U.S. Surgeon General
David Satcher David Satcher, (born March 2, 1941) is an American physician, and public health administrator. He was a four-star admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth ...

David Satcher
released The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent Suicide, in July, and the first Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, in December. NIMH, along with other federal agencies, collaborated in the preparation of both of these landmark reports. Since the appointment of Thomas R. Insel as Director of NIMH in 2002, the institute has undergone organizational changes to better target mental health research needs (the expansion from three extramural divisions to five divisions, with the two new divisions focusing on adult and child translational research). NIMH also weathered several years of controversy due to
conflict of interest A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an i ...
and ethics violations by some of its intramural investigators. This situation cast light on an area that affected all of NIH, and resulted in more stringent rules about conflict of interest for all of NIH. Recently, Congressional interest turned to ethics and conflict of interest concerns with external investigators who receive NIMH or other NIH support. Current federal law has responsibility for managing and monitoring conflict of interests for external investigators with their home institutions/organizations. NIH responded to these new concerns by initiating a formal process for seeking public input and advice that will likely result in a change to the rules for monitoring and managing conflict of interest concerns for externally supported investigators. Finally, the past decade has also been marked by exciting scientific breakthroughs and efforts in mental illness research, as new genetic advances and bioimaging methodologies have increased understanding of mental illnesses. Two notable consequences of these advances are the institute's collaboration with the Department of Army to launch the Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members (STARRS), a Framingham-like effort scheduled to last until 2014 and the
Research Domain Criteria The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project is an initiative of personalized medicine in psychiatry Psychiatry is the specialty (medicine), medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders. These includ ...
(RDoC) effort, which seeks to define basic dimensions of functioning (such as fear circuitry or working memory) to be studied across multiple levels of analysis, from genes to neural circuits to behaviors, cutting across disorders as traditionally defined. A collection of interviews with directors and individuals significant in the foundation and early history of the institute conducted by Dr. Eli A. Rubenstein between 1975 and 1978 is held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.


Noted researchers

In 1970,
Julius Axelrod Julius Axelrod (May 30, 1912 – December 29, 2004) was an American Biochemistry, biochemist. He won a share of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1970 along with Bernard Katz and Ulf von Euler. The Nobel Committee honored him for his w ...

Julius Axelrod
, a NIMH researcher, won the
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( , ; 21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, busines ...
in Physiology or Medicine for research into the chemistry of nerve transmission for "discoveries concerning the humoral transmitters in the nerve terminals and the mechanisms for their storage, release and inactivation." He found an enzyme that terminated the action of the nerve transmitter, noradrenaline in the synapse and which also served as a critical target of many antidepressant drugs. In 1960s-70s John B. Calhoun, ethologist and behavioral researcher studied the population density and its effects on behavior in the NIMH facility in Maryland. Later his work become renowned after several publications, including article in Scientific American and a widely known "Universe 25" story predicting anti-utopian future based on rodent experiments in overpopulated environment. In 1984, , a psychiatrist and NIMH researcher, pioneered
seasonal affective disorder Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder Mood disorder, also known as mood affective disorders, is a group of conditions where a disturbance in the person's mood is the main underlying feature. The classification is in the ''Diag ...
, coined the term SAD, and began studying the use of
light therapy Light therapy—or phototherapy, classically referred to as heliotherapy—consists either of exposure to daylight Daylight is the combination of all direct and indirect sunlight Sunlight is a portion of the given off by the , in pa ...
as a treatment.CNN, Insiders Guide: Season Affective Disorder, Paul Sussman, Nov 2 200

Retrieved July 2011
He received the Anna Monika Foundation Award for his research on seasonal depression.
Louis Sokoloff Louis Sokoloff (October 14, 1921 – July 30, 2015) was an American neuroscientist. He is considered to be a pioneer in functional imaging of the brain. Louis Sokoloff was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the National A ...
, a NIMH researcher, received the Albert Łasker award in Clinical Medical Research for developing a new method of measuring brain function that contributed to basic understanding and diagnosis of brain diseases.
Roger Sperry Roger Wolcott Sperry (August 20, 1913 – April 17, 1994) was an American neuropsychologist, neurobiologist A neuroscientist (or neurobiologist) is a scientist who has specialised knowledge in the field of neuroscience, the branch of biology th ...
, a NIMH research grantee, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for discoveries regarding the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres, or the "left" and "right" brain.
Eric Kandel Eric Richard Kandel (; born Erich Richard Kandel, November 7, 1929) is an Austrian-born American medical doctor A physician (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or ...

Eric Kandel
and
Paul Greengard Paul Greengard (December 11, 1925 – April 13, 2019) was an American neuroscientist best known for his work on the molecule, molecular and cell (biology), cellular function of neurons. In 2000, Greengard, Arvid Carlsson and Eric Kandel were awar ...

Paul Greengard
, each of whom have received NIMH support for more than three decades, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sweden's
Arvid Carlsson Arvid Carlsson (25 January 1923 – 29 June 2018) was a Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland ...
. Kandel received the prize for his elucidating research on the functional modification of synapses in the brain. Initially using the sea slug as an experimental model but later working with mice, he established that the formation of memories is a consequence of short and long-term changes in the biochemistry of nerve cells Greengard was recognized for his discovery that dopamine and a number of other transmitters can alter the functional state of neuronal proteins, and also that such changes could be reversed by subsequent environmental signals.
Nancy Andreasen Nancy Coover Andreasen (born November 11, 1938) is an American neuroscience, neuroscientist and neuropsychiatry, neuropsychiatrist. She currently holds the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver ...
, a psychiatrist and long-time NIMH grantee, won the
National Medal of Science The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Fed ...

National Medal of Science
for her groundbreaking work in schizophrenia and for joining behavioral science with
neuroscience Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system In biology, the classical doctrine of the nervous system determines that it is a Complex system, highly complex part of an animal that coordinates its Behavior, actions and Sens ...

neuroscience
and neuroimaging. The Presidential Award is one of the nation's highest awards in science.
Aaron Beck Aaron Temkin Beck (born July 18, 1921) is an American psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English), medical doctor, or sim ...
, a psychiatrist, received the 2006 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research. Often called "America's Nobels", the Laskers are the nation's most distinguished honor for outstanding contributions to basic and clinical medical research. Beck developed cognitive therapy—a form of
psychotherapy Psychotherapy (also psychological therapy or talking therapy) is the use of Psychology, psychological methods, particularly when based on regular Conversation, personal interaction, to help a person change behavior, increase happiness, and ove ...
—which transformed the understanding and treatment of many psychiatric conditions, including depression, suicidal behavior, generalized anxiety, panic attacks and
eating disorder An eating disorder is a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating behaviors that negatively affect a person's health, physical or mental health, mental health. Only one eating disorder can be diagnosed at a given time. Types of eating disorders ...
s. In 2010,
Mortimer Mishkin Mortimer Mishkin (December 13, 1926 – October 2, 2021) was an American neuropsychologist, and winner of the 2009 National Medal of Science The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States The pr ...
was awarded the National Medal of Science. Mishkin is chief of the NIMH's Section on Cognitive Neuroscience, and acting chief of its Laboratory of
Neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on how injuries or illness ...
. He is the first NIMH intramural scientist to receive the medal. Due in part to work spearheaded by Mishkin, science now understands much about the pathways for vision, hearing and touch, and about how those processing streams connect with brain structures important for memory.


Directors


In creative works

Calhoun's experiments on mouse and rat population dynamics inspired novelist Robert C. O'Brien to write ''
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH ''Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH'' is a 1971 children's book Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are made for children. Modern children's literature is classified in two differen ...
'', a 1971 children's book about laboratory rats who escape from the institute and develop a literate and technological society. The book was adapted for film in 1982 as ''
The Secret of NIMH ''The Secret of NIMH'' is a 1982 American Animation, animated Fantasy film, fantasy adventure film directed by Don Bluth in his directorial debut and based on Robert C. O'Brien (author), Robert C. O'Brien's children's novel, ''Mrs. Frisby and the ...
''.


See also

*
National Mental Health Act The National Mental Health Act (1946) became law on July 3, 1946. It established and provided funds for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The act made the mental health of the people a federal priority. It was inspired by alarm at t ...


Notes and references


Further reading

*''Psychology and the National Institute of Mental Health: A Historical Analysis of Science, Practice, and Policy'', Edited by Wade E. Pickren, PhD and Stanley F. Schneider, American Psychological Association, 2004,


External links


Official website

National Institutes of Health

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA)

Mental Health: A Report from the Surgeon General

Culture, Race and Ethnicity: A Supplement to the Surgeon General's Report
{{authority control Mental health organizations in Maryland
Mental Health Mental health is "a state of well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''quality of life'', refers to what is intrinsically valuable relative ''to'' someone. So the well-being of a person is what is ultimatel ...
Research institutes established in 1949