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I am NIMH: Q&A with Brian Barnett

Photo of Brian Barnett, Ph.D.

Brian Barnett, Ph.D.

Health Science Policy Analyst     
Science, Policy, and Evaluation Branch

What is your name and job title?

I'm Brian Barnett, Ph.D., a health science policy analyst in the Science, Policy, and Evaluation Branch within the Office of Science, Policy, Planning, and Communications.

It's a great opportunity to support scientific research and help share the progress that's being made in mental health research.

How would you summarize what you do?

My role includes helping coordinate NIMH responses to stakeholders—the public, Congress, and researchers; helping develop public-facing presentations and products; performing policy reviews and clearance; and working in the areas of strategic planning and evaluation.

How long have you worked at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)?

I've been working at NIMH in my current role for just over 18 months now.

What makes you want to stay at NIMH?

I'm in a role where I can build experiences across several domains. I'm getting a better understanding of ongoing programs and more experience developing, reviewing, and clearing policies and communications. And I'm getting a lot of training and experience in project management and program evaluation.

Also, working here feels like a healthy work environment. Everyone on my team is improving our skills and training, but we're also working together to look for opportunities to continually improve our processes.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is getting to contribute to so many of NIMH's public-facing materials, including content on our website. I help develop the statistics webpages and work on NIMH's strategic plan for research and its associated progress report. I also contribute to the NIMH director's presentations. I like seeing the process and the result of these products that go out to the public.

What would you tell a friend if they were considering working here?

It's a great opportunity to support scientific research and help share the progress that's being made in mental health research. One of the highlights of my current role is the variety of opportunities and tasks. Though there are things that happen every few months, like data calls, there are always great opportunities to learn something new.

What’s one life lesson you’ve learned from your career?

I have never found that a project plan went underutilized or that it wasn't helpful. It's worth investing in project planning and project management, no matter what you're working on.

What is a benefit of working here that not many people know about?

I appreciate the breadth of expertise and experience throughout the institute. All our colleagues are subject matter experts. Everyone I work with provides a great perspective, and I learn about each of their areas of expertise in unexpected ways. We have a wide range of subject matter experts, and I appreciate receiving their great input.

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?

I've enjoyed a previous work experience where I was doing data analytics for a city government. I appreciated the unique challenges and opportunities that a local government faces, and it was exciting and fulfilling to work with colleagues, stakeholders, and constituents who were all living in the same community as me.