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Global Mental Health Effectiveness Research Program


The goal of this program is to improve global mental health outcomes through novel interventions or service models that improve clinical benefit, practice and scalability. This program supports research that uses an experimental therapeutics approach to developing and testing interventions to prevent and treat mental illnesses in diverse populations living in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). For cognitive, behavioral and other psychosocial interventions, the goal of this empirically-grounded, mechanism-based approach is to demonstrate target engagement and identify dosing parameters (such as intensity, frequency, or duration) at which the intervention has the optimal effect on the target. Once target engagement is demonstrated, additional proof-of-concept research would then address whether the target’s intervention-induced changes are associated with the anticipated clinical benefit.

This program covers interventions for all mental disorders, ranging from common mental disorders to serious mental illnesses and includes interventions that consider determinants of mental illnesses, such as biological, social, economic, environmental and structural. It supports clinical trials to establish the efficacy or effectiveness of interventions and to test hypotheses for mediators, moderators and mechanisms of therapeutic actions. This program also encourages pilot effectiveness research on preventive interventions, such as reducing the occurrence of mental disorders, dysfunctions, and related problems within asymptomatic and subclinical populations, and treatment interventions such as reducing relapse and recurrence, use of personalized treatment and stepped-care approaches with previously demonstrated efficacy for use with broad target populations or in community practice settings. This program encourages the development and testing of innovative services interventions applicable to low-resource settings. Effectiveness trials that leverage practice-based research and other research investments to increase efficiency in LMICs are encouraged. Effectiveness studies should incorporate research that examines the effect of interventions on mental health outcomes across diverse settings, and that address patient-, provider-, community- and systems-level factors impacting mental health outcomes and scalability of research findings. Effectiveness studies that also incorporate NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) or RDoC-like constructs are highly desirable.

Areas of Emphasis:

  • Hybrid effectiveness-implementation
  • Studies that develop, test, and optimize efficacy or effectiveness of preventive and treatment interventions for mental illnesses among children, youth, and adults living in LMICs .
  • Studies that investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness (such as cost utility analysis, cost-benefit analysis, budget-impact analysis) of interventions for the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders in LMICs.
  • Effectiveness research to develop and test the integration of mental health interventions into existing care for other non-communicable diseases and/or for HIV.
  • Studies to better understand the effectiveness of mental health interventions in humanitarian crisis settings in LMICs.

See more information on NIMH’s support for clinical trials.


Pim Brouwers, PhD
5601 Fishers Lane, Room 9E21/MSC 9831