NIMH Outreach Partnership Program
The Outreach Partnership Program of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) works to increase the public's access to science-based information through partnerships with national and state nonprofit organizations. With an emphasis on reaching underserved populations and promoting participation in research, the partnerships also help the NIMH understand concerns of those intended to benefit from the research the Institute supports.
Thomas Insel, M.D.: The Outreach Partnership Program, for us at NIMH, is really one of the jewels in our crown. The NIMH mission is to support research that improves the understanding of the mental disorders, leading to prevention, recovery and cure. And it’s by working with partners, as we do in the Outreach Partnership Program, that we ensure that that particular mission is realized -- not only as an academic pursuit, but it’s realized in communities across the country. What's pretty exciting about that is it gives us a chance not only to update people from all these different communities about the science that we're supporting, but it gives us a chance to hear from them about what science will be most important.
Diana Morales: NIMH and the outreach partners are working together to make sure that the public understands that mental disorders really are disorders of the brain. The goal of the Outreach Partnership Program really is to increase the public's access to information about mental health and mental illnesses that’s research-based. In that way it helps inform their decisions about the treatment that they receive and also gives them hope about the future – where we’re going in our understanding of the diagnosis, treatment, prevention -- and hopefully ultimately a cure -- for mental illnesses. And we do that by supporting 55 nonprofit mental health organizations from around the country. There's an outreach partner in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. And those organizations work with us. We support them to disseminate science and research-based information and to conduct outreach and education in their communities. And also to make the public aware of opportunities to actually participate in research. They really are in every community you can imagine. So they're working in Schools. They're working with parents. They're working with first responders. They work directly with health care providers and mental health providers and clinics and hospitals. They do a lot of direct outreach and educational programs, training sessions. They run support groups, do health fairs. They really reach very deeply into their communities. So they’re really focused on making sure that everything that they do in the community has a strong evidence base -- and I look to NIMH for that information. NIMH provides its outreach partners with access to all of our science-based publications and other resources that we have. Every year we bring the outreach partners together for an annual meeting. And during that meeting, one of the things that that they really value is the opportunity to network with each other and learn about what their peers are doing and what they might take back into their communities.
Ann Kirkwood: We have been working on suicide prevention, primarily because our rate of suicide among young people is so high. While nationally it's it certainly high -- it’s the third cause of death for 15-24 year-olds. In Idaho, it’s the second leading cause of death. When it happens in a small community, there isn't anybody in a small community -- in a rural community -- that isn’t impacted. So we’ve also experienced some suicide clusters. Ready access to the latest scientific treatment information has really been helpful as we provide communities with the information they need for suicide prevention -- but also for response. Particularly to a school suicide, we've been able to pull together best practices for them, so they are assured of doing the right thing after a suicide and can avoid a suicide cluster.
Dan Aune: I think what we count on with NIMH is that high quality research information about where we’re going. And it really brings a hopefulness to people that there's really somebody out there who's dedicated to you figuring it out -- finding some answers. And for us to be able to take that information and not only have it is soft ways -- like the website or a handout – but actually to go out and recruit people who may want to do the clinical trials. To go to the state division of mental health and substance abuse and say “hey, you know, this is information you could push on. We want to partner.” So it's nice to have that that national partnership -- and especially that direct relatedness to the research. And that somebody could actually say “hey, they're doing something.”
Lisa Furst: It's been a tremendous benefit to us. For one thing, we have access to cutting-edge research that is sponsored by NIMH. We’re able to distribute that to all the folks in New York City who want to know about mental health. We’re able to let folks know what clinical trials are happening and how they might be a part of research if they want to be. We’re able to use social media to broadcast the message. And we've even been able to bring in key researchers from NIMH to come to our locality and provide some really terrific cutting-edge information within our community. And I wouldn't have known about that information we wouldn’t have had access to those researchers without the partnership.