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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Research Highlights from 2020

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.