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Outreach Partnership Program 2014 Annual Meeting: Overview

April 1-3, 2014
Bethesda, Maryland

Meeting Agenda

An Outreach Partner comments during opening session.

An Outreach Partner comments during opening session.

In April 2014, over 100 representatives of state and national mental health organizations, researchers, and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) staff gathered on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus for the 2014 annual meeting of the NIMH Outreach Partnership Program (OPP). Outreach Partners from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and representatives of the more than 80 national organizations that participate in the program came together to learn more about the latest scientific research and evidence-based practices in early intervention and treatment of mental disorders across the lifespan. The Partners also had the opportunity to share lessons learned with each other and to discuss potential collaborations.

A nationwide initiative of NIMH’s Office of Constituency Relations and Public Liaison, the OPP is designed to increase the public’s access to science-based mental health information through partnerships with national and state nonprofit mental health organizations.

NIMH Director Dr. Insel delivers opening presentation

NIMH Director Dr. Insel delivers opening presentation.

NIMH Director Thomas Insel, M.D., kicked off the meeting by calling 2014 a pivotal year due to advances that promise substantial scientific momentum. He pointed out that there has been success in conquering medical illnesses; for example, deaths from heart disease are down 1.1 million, and AIDS is no longer always fatal. However, this progress has not been repeated for mental illnesses, despite multiple efforts. For example, as many as 38,000 Americans die by suicide per year, a number that has not changed in two decades. He further noted that according to recent global efforts to understand diseases, injuries, and risk factors, brain disorders are now the leading category of disease burden in the United States, and growing in the world.

Michael Lott-Manier, Assistant Director of Public Policy, Mental Health America of Colorado comments during opening session

Michael Lott-Manier, Assistant Director of Public Policy, Mental Health America of Colorado comments during opening session.

In addition, Dr. Insel highlighted what Science selected as the breakthroughs of the year. NIMH funded four out of the 10 research advances selected for 2013, including: precision gene editing through light programming; a revolutionary way to see the brain’s structure and molecules by plasticizing and staining brain tissue; sleep as the driver of metabolite clearance from the brain; and, cerebral organoids that can be used to model human brain development. He also provided brief updates on priority NIMH and NIH efforts, including the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project, new approaches for clinical trials that define targets to understand disorders, and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Dr. Insel closed the session by engaging the Partners in active dialogue about the issues in their states.

Dr. Sherry Glied delivers keynote address

Dr. Sherry Glied delivers keynote address.

Sherry Glied, Ph.D., Dean of the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University gave the keynote address, Implementing Mental Health Parity in the Current Healthcare Paradigm. “Dr. Glied is, without question, one of the national experts, if not the national expert on mental health parity reform,” said Dr. Insel. “She was right in the center of this historic shift in the way that services would be provided in this country.”

NIMH Director Thomas Insel engages in dialogue with Outreach Partners

NIMH Director Thomas Insel engages in dialogue with Outreach Partners.

“The interesting thing about the ACA [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009] is that it hardly mentions mental health or substance abuse at all, and yet it is likely that the ACA will have a tremendous effect on mental health and substance abuse provisions, access, financial availability, and even on the way care is provided,” said Glied. “The impact of this law on people with mental illness is actually much bigger than it is for the population overall.” Healthcare coverage under the ACA will provide what Glied calls, “parity plus”—wherein mental health benefits are officially considered essential health benefits. The ACA will also expand people’s access to affordable services and treatments. Glied estimates that when the ACA is fully in place, 30 million people who were previously uninsured or underinsured will gain mental health benefits.

The second morning opened with updates and next steps from the NIMH Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) project. Lisa Dixon, M.D., M.P.H, Principal Investigator of the RAISE Connection Program and Director of the Center for Practice Innovations at the New York State Psychiatric Institute began the session by describing the research on implementation of the RAISE Connection program for first-episode psychosis in New York and Maryland that led to continuation of these programs in both states. Robert Heinssen, Ph.D., Director of the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research, reviewed NIMH’s Early Prediction and Prevention of Psychosis research initiatives, which focus on increasing access to evidence-based care for individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis, and improving early detection and intervention approaches for individuals at high risk for psychosis. He also described the new NIMH-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) research-to-practice effort, the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) 5% Set Aside, a partnership between the Federal government and states to direct five percent of the state’s Mental Health Block Grant allocation to support “evidence-based programs that address the needs of individuals with early serious mental illness, including psychotic disorders.”

Drs. Saylers and Davidson respond to questions during session on peer support research

Drs. Saylers and Davidson respond to questions during session on peer support research.

Additional plenary sessions provided research updates on topics of key interest to the participants. Partners heard about the state of research on behavioral health technologies from NIMH grantee David Mohr, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Julia Hoffman, Psy.D., National Director for Mobile Health for Mental Health Services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, shared the latest behavioral mobile applications for Veterans. In addition, NIMH grantees Larry Davidson, Ph.D. from the Yale School of Medicine and Michelle Salyers, Ph.D. from the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis presented a review of research on peer support services.

In the closing session, a panel of NIMH, SAMHSA, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff shared updates from the National Action Alliance on Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance). NIMH Suicide Research Consortium Chair Jane Pearson, Ph.D., reviewed the development of and stakeholder input into the newly released Prioritized Research Agenda for Suicide Prevention (pdf) and Deb Stone, Sc.D., M.S.W., M.P.H., from the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and James Wright, M.S., L.C.P.C., with the SAMHSA Suicide Prevention Branch highlighted new publications developed by the Action Alliance to support suicide prevention for youth in contact with the juvenile justice system.

Partner Sharing

Participants describe outreach programs during Partner Sharing Session

Participants describe outreach programs during Partner Sharing Session.

The 2014 meeting featured a number of Partner sharing opportunities. As one partner said, “It was very helpful to hear from other OPP organizations, because there were practical and concrete ideas to take home and immediately implement.”

On the first day of the meeting, NIMH communications staff facilitated dialogue about how to leverage the changing media landscape to disseminate NIMH information to communities. A panel of Outreach Partners shared examples and lessons learned using traditional and social media, along with community outreach, to bring NIMH research to their constituents.

In a panel about community-research collaborations, Outreach Partners were joined by Sue Sheridan, M.B.A, M.I.M, Director of Patient Engagement at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), to share lessons learned and avenues for Partners to become involved in the research process. Partners heard about the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards Program, which was created to ensure the active integration of patients, caregivers, clinicians/providers, industry, payers/purchasers, researchers, and other stakeholders as integral members of research endeavors. 

MHA of Montana Executive Director Dan Aune shares experience developing a research partnership

MHA of Montana Executive Director Dan Aune shares experience developing a research partnership.

Holly Kiger, R.N., M.N., C.N.S, a research navigator at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI), an NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) project, discussed how they are partnering with community-based organizations and providers to develop research projects that address mental health issues of concern to their community. In addition, Dan Aune, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., Executive Director at Mental Health America of Montana, detailed their steps for successfully identifying and engaging a researcher to develop an evaluation study of peer support training.

Outreach Partner Sharing Session

Partner Sharing Session

In addition, over 30 Partners shared their education and outreach activities in the Partner Sharing Session, a hands-on opportunity to learn how others are disseminating research in their states. Partners also described lessons learned about implementing Crisis Intervention Training programs in a breakout session. In another breakout session, SAMHSA staff joined Partners to talk about communication activities to respond to tragic events and to support National Dialogue for Mental Health community conversations in their states.

In summary, Partners reported that the meeting provided a wealth of research data and practical ideas that they could bring back to their communities. As one participant noted, Partners “really appreciated all of the presentations as they covered the gamut from research to practicality.”