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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Research Highlights

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Researchers Map the Genetic Landscape of Schizophrenia in the Brain

In a comprehensive postmortem genetic analysis of the caudate nucleus in the brain, NIMH-supported researchers identified many genes associated with schizophrenia risk, including a gene that regulates the flow of the chemical messenger dopamine.

A digital recreation of a DNA strand.
Rare Genetic Variation in 10 Genes Substantially Raise the Risk for Schizophrenia

In one of the largest genetic studies of its kind researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health identified variations in 10 genes that significantly raise the risk for schizophrenia—information that could help identify new treatment targets.

Two diverse pairs of hands cupped under a lightbulb illuminating a digital space.
NIMH Turns Challenges into Opportunities

The recent NIMH Mental Health Services Research conference covered a range of topics, including mental health equity, policy, and funding.

A father and son sitting on a park bench.
Family-Based Intervention Lowers Long-Term Suicide Risk in Youth

In a recent study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, researchers examined the impact of a family-based intervention on suicide risk in youth and found risk-reduction benefits up to 10 years later.

Close up of a female doctor’s hands filling out a screening form while speaking with a patient
A Clinical Pathway for Suicide Risk Screening in Adult Primary Care

An NIMH-supported workgroup developed an evidence-based screening pathway to help primary care doctors identify adults at risk of suicide and bridge them to critical mental health services.

Abstract image of program code being analyzed
Computational Methods Identify Psychosis Symptoms in Spoken Language

Researchers used computational methods to automatically detect abnormalities in spoken language that could be used to predict symptoms of psychotic disorders including schizophrenia.

Father sitting and talking to his toddler
Toddlers’ Responses to “Baby Talk” Linked to Social, Cognitive, Language Abilities

In an NIMH-supported study, researchers found that toddlers respond to emotionally expressive speech in different ways, and these varied responses are linked with their social, linguistic, and cognitive abilities.

Young child resting against a swing
Low Motivation for Social Bonding May Signal Behavior Problems in Early Childhood

In an NIMH-supported study, researchers found that low social affiliation—low motivation for social engagement and bonding—may be a precursor that identifies children as early as age 2 who are likely to develop callous-unemotional behaviors.

A teen (in background) pushes away a plate with broccoli on it (in foreground).
Adult “Picky Eaters” Recall Helpful Parent Feeding Strategies

Researchers asked a group of self-identified adult “picky eaters” to reflect on their parents’ feeding strategies to better understand which strategies were helpful and which weren’t.

Photograph of a man staring straight ahead with the sides of his face blurry and out of focus
Feelings of Detachment After Trauma May Signal Worse Mental Health Outcomes

A new NIMH-supported study shows that experiencing persistent feelings of detachment following trauma is an early psychological and biological marker of worse mental health outcomes.

Kids in classroom raising hands.
Study Furthers Understanding of Disparities in School Discipline

A new NIMH-supported analysis shows that disciplinary disparities occur as early as preschool and that their effects can negatively influence how well students do in later years.

A mental health provider talks with a veteran.
Study Shows REACH VET Program Effective for Veterans at High Risk for Suicide

A recent NIMH co-authored study shows that a Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention program was associated with fewer inpatient mental health admissions and emergency department visits, and a 5 percent reduction in documented suicide attempts.

Hands typing at a computer
Mindful Mood Balance Effective for Treating Residual Depressive Symptoms and Suicidal Ideation

NIMH-supported researchers have found an online mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy—called Mindful Mood Balance—is effective at reducing residual depressive symptoms and at reducing suicidal ideation in those who experience these symptoms.

A mother and toddler with a health care provider
Multistage Autism Screening in Early Intervention Settings May Reduce Disparities

An NIMH-supported study shows that incorporating a multistage screening process for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) into federally funded early intervention services may reduce disparities in early ASD diagnosis.

A drawing of parapinopsin, a photoswitchable GPCR that can be turned on using UV light and turned off using amber light. Credit: Copits, B. et al., (2021). A photoswitchable GPCR-based opsin for presynaptic inhibition. Neuron, 109(11), 1791–1809.e11.
Tool Uses Light to Inhibit Neural Activity in Mice

Researchers supported by NIH have developed a way to genetically insert a type of light receptor into neurons. The new technique enables the researchers to suppress the neuron’s activity using pulses of light.

Illustrated human head with red spot in the center
New Approach Allows Magnetic Brain Stimulation to Target Deep Brain Structures

TMS can only directly stimulate the outermost layer of the brain, but NIMH researchers have found that mapping a person’s brain architecture may make it possible to guide TMS to deep brain targets.

3D rendering of a molecule
Autism and Congenital Heart Disease Share Underlying Molecular Network

A recent study of gene networks may hold some promising clues about shared mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorder and congenital heart disease, two physiologically distinct disorders that often co-occur.

Enhanced photo of researchers standing and wearing virtual reality headsets to plan DBS implantation.
Personalizing Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression

A recent NIMH-supported study investigated whether deep brain stimulation could be personalized for individuals with treatment-resistant depression.

A close-up view of an adult man’s face and eye
Machine Learning Study Sheds Light on Gaze Patterns in Adults With Autism

NIMH researchers examine what people with ASD and people without ASD look at when viewing a social scene.

Silhouettes of youth heads in various colors.
Understanding the Characteristics of Suicide in Young Children

Researchers supported by NIMH recently published a study describing the characteristics of suicide in young children and the factors that sometimes precede these tragic events, providing an avenue for future research and intervention.

Image of brain and DNA strands
Genomic Data From More Than 41,000 People Shed New Light on Bipolar Disorder

In the largest genome-wide association study of bipolar disorder to date, researchers found about twice as many genetic locations associated with bipolar disorder as reported in previous studies. These and other findings help improve our understanding of the biological origins of bipolar disorder.

Silhouette of team raising their hands over their heads
A New Strength-Focused Framework to Prevent American Indian and Alaska Native Youth Suicide

Researchers have developed a promising new framework for suicide prevention in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. The research framework expands on conventional risk reduction strategies by placing Indigenous culture, knowledge, beliefs, and community collaboration at the center of the approach.

a woman holds a baby
Partner Violence and Elevated HIV Viral Load in South African Women

New analysis suggests an association between intimate partner violence and elevated viral loads among postpartum women in South Africa.

Photo of the arms and hands of a female therapist holding the hands of a young woman.
Improved Emotion Regulation in Dialectical Behavior Therapy Reduces Suicide Risk in Youth

An analysis of clinical trial data shows that improvements in emotion regulation in youth at high risk for suicide who received dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) led to a reduction in self-harm behaviors.

line drawing illustration of human brain
Mapping ‘Imbalance’ in Brain Anatomy Across the Lifespan

Researchers in the NIMH Intramural Research Program have developed a new way to measure the degree to which the proportions of an individual person’s brain differ from the proportions typically seen in the broader population. This technique yields new insights into brain development and offers tools for further study.

Photo of a pair of woman’s hands holding another woman’s hand on a table.
Assessing Suicide Risk Among Childbearing Women in the U.S. Before and After Giving Birth

NIMH-supported researchers investigated suicide risk among women in the year before and year after giving birth.

hospital exterior sign that reads "Emergency"
Investigating Unintentional Injury as a Risk Factor for Self-Harm

In a recent study, NIMH-supported researchers found that certain types of unintentional injury have stronger associations with self-harm than others in adolescents.

National Institute of Mental Health
NIMH Addresses Critical Need for Rapid-Acting Interventions for Severe Suicide Risk

NIMH is working to meet the urgent need for rapid-acting suicide prevention interventions by supporting research investigating the feasibility and safety of treatment protocols that have the potential to quickly reduce severe suicide risk in youth and adults.

Adolescents taking a selfie
NIH Initiative Expands Access to Resources for Early Psychosis Treatment and Research

The Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET), an NIMH initiative aimed at determining how to best provide treatment for individuals experiencing symptoms of early psychosis, is increasing access to resources for researchers, providers, and families through a growing network of research hubs and a new website.

Using Mobile Technology to Improve Care for Teens with Depression
Using Mobile Technology to Improve Care for Teens with Depression

In a project funded by the NIMH Small Business Technology Transfer program, researchers are investigating whether mobile technology can be used to create a passive monitoring system that can predict teens’ depressive symptoms and improve the quality of their care.

a young boy stacks wooden alphabet blocks
Testing and Refining Biomarkers to Support Intervention Research for Children with Autism

NIMH, along with other NIH Institutes, is supporting the ABC-CT project, a multisite study that aims to test and refine biomarkers that can be used as objective measures of social impairment for children with autism in clinical trials, leading to more predictive and personalized treatment.

National Institute of Mental Health
NIMH Awards Funding for Research on Preventing Firearm Injury and Mortality

Suicide attempts by firearm are especially dangerous, with as many as 9 out of 10 attempts resulting in death. NIMH is supporting three projects focused on preventing and reducing firearm injury and mortality to help address the critical need for more research in this area.

A female mental health specialist talks with a young woman, holding her hands.
Brief Suicide Prevention Interventions in Acute Care Settings May Reduce Subsequent Suicide Attempts

A research project supported by NIMH analyzed multiple studies to determine the effectiveness of brief suicide prevention interventions in acute care settings.

outline art of male and female human figures
NIMH Part of Collaborative Effort to Advance Early Intervention for Individuals at Risk of Developing Schizophrenia

NIMH has joined with other NIH Institutes in launching an new Accelerating Medicines Partnership focused on advancing the development of better ways to identify and treat those at clinical high risk for psychosis.

A student carries books and a phone on a college campus.
Differences in Suicide Risk Among Subgroups of Sexual and Gender Minority College Students

In an NIMH-supported study, researchers found that college students identifying as a sexual or gender minority had higher rates of suicidal risk factors than cisgender and heterosexual peers, and that there were significant differences in risk among sexual minority subgroups.

artistic illustration of a molecular structure
Genetic Variations Highlight the Importance of Metabolic Processes in Anorexia

The need to identify effective targets for intervention in anorexia nervosa is pressing, as patient outcomes are often poor. An NIMH-funded genome-wide association study suggests that metabolic processes may play an important role in the disorder, offering a promising new avenue for investigation.

Infant and female caregiver holding tablet and speaking with doctor.
Supporting the Development of Early Autism Screening Tools

NIMH, along with other NIH Institutes, is supporting the goal of identifying autism in the first year of life by funding projects that seek to seek to translate findings related to early-emerging signs of autism into practical ASD screening tools that can be implemented in the general population and community settings.

Image showing immunofluorescence of fear-acquisition tagged neurons in the dentate gyrus during spontaneous recovery. Credit: Springer Nature; Lacagnina et al. 2019
Brain Processes Underlying the Extinction and Reactivation of Fear Memories

In a study published in 2019 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health investigated the neurobiological changes that occur in the brain circuits of mice when contextual fear memories — fear of a place where an aversive event occurred — are formed and extinguished.

This image shows double-helix DNA strands.
Large-Scale Genetics Study Sheds Light on Developmental Origins of Autism

Researchers were able to identify different types of rare genetic variations associated with autism spectrum disorder by analyzing data shared via the NIMH-funded Autism Sequencing Consortium.

Identifying Practices for Reducing Incarceration of Those with Mental Illnesses—A Study of “Stepping Up”
Identifying Practices for Reducing Incarceration of Those with Mental Illnesses—A Study of “Stepping Up”

According to a 2017 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, approximately two-thirds of female inmates in prisons and jails and around a third of men in prisons and jails report having been diagnosed as having mental health disorder by a mental health professional.

Using Technology to Help Predict Binge and Purge Episodes in People with Eating Disorders
Using Technology to Help Predict Binge and Purge Episodes in People with Eating Disorders

In binge-eating disorder and bulimia nervosa, people experience recurrent and frequent episodes in which they eat unusually large amounts of food and feel a sense of loss of control.

Developing Rapid, Accurate Assessment of Mental Disorders, Suicide Risk in Youth
Developing Rapid, Accurate Assessment of Mental Disorders, Suicide Risk in Youth

For many adults who have a mental disorder, symptoms were present—but often not recognized or addressed—in childhood and adolescence. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting impairment or disability as a child grows up.

Combined Electroconvulsive Therapy and Venlafaxine a Well-Tolerated Depression Treatment for Older Adults
Combined Electroconvulsive Therapy and Venlafaxine a Well-Tolerated Depression Treatment for Older Adults

The use of right unilateral ultrabrief pulse (RUL-UB) electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in combination with the antidepressant venlafaxine to treat depression in elderly patients is well tolerated and results in minimal neurocognitive side effects, according to a new NIH-funded study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Transforming Mental Health Care Through ALACRITY
Transforming Mental Health Care Through ALACRITY

In 2018, 11.4 million adults in the United States experienced a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, severe bipolar disorder, and severe depression.