The Outreach Partnership Program is a nationwide initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health’s (NIMH) Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison (OCRPL). The Program works to increase the public’s access to science-based mental health information through partnerships with national and state organizations. The Program encourages efforts to reach diverse racial and ethnic groups. The Program also strives to enhance opportunities for the public to benefit from participation in research. These partnerships provide NIMH with the opportunity to engage community organizations in dialogue to better understand the needs, questions, and concerns of those intended to benefit from the research the Institute supports.
The Outreach Partnership Program is vital to NIMH’s efforts to deliver science-based information to communities across the country. Specifically, the Program is designed to:
- Foster more widespread understanding about mental disorders, the brain, and behavior, thereby helping to reduce misperceptions and negative attitude towards mental illness;
- Increase awareness of the role of basic, translational, and clinical research in the understanding, prevention, and treatment of mental illnesses; and
- Increase awareness about the opportunities to benefit from participation in mental health research.
There are 55 Outreach Partner organizations representing all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Outreach Partners disseminate NIMH research findings and educational materials to the public throughout their states and local communities, including families and individuals affected by mental illness, healthcare professionals, underserved populations, and other constituencies such as schools, social service agencies, and faith-based organizations. Outreach Partners also conduct outreach activities to address the needs of populations that experience mental health disparities as defined by race or ethnicity, age, education or income, disability status, geographic location, risk status related to sex and gender, and among other populations identified to be at-risk for health disparities such as immigrants, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI). In addition, Outreach Partners promote volunteer participation in NIMH and NIH clinical trials and often collaborate with researchers to advance the research process.
Outreach Partners are selected through a competitive process. Benefits provided to these organizations include sponsored participation in an annual meeting, the biweekly electronic Update newsletter featuring the latest Federal news and resources related to mental health, and access to NIMH scientific and educational publications for mass dissemination. Partners are able to network among themselves and with Federal, national, and state organizations through the annual meetings and a dedicated electronic mailing list.
There are over 80 National Partners, including professional, consumer, advocacy, and service-related organizations with a nationwide membership and/or audience. Most National Partners are focused on mental health and work to help individuals and families affected by mental illness, but some are involved in general health and medicine, social services, or education. The Outreach Partnership Program strives to connect all of these organizations -- state, local, and national -- with one another in an effort to enhance the effectiveness of each other’s work. The resulting partnerships extend outreach and educational activities to more diverse populations, allow for information sharing, and help to assure that science-based information about mental illnesses and mental health have broad reach throughout states and local communities. National Partners also assist in the dissemination of NIMH research findings and science-based materials.