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Outreach Partnership Program 2017 Annual Meeting: Overview

July 12-14, 2017
Bethesda, Maryland

Meeting Agenda

In July 2017, over 100 state and national mental health organizations met on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus for the 2017 annual meeting of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Outreach Partnership Program (OPP). Outreach Partners from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, as well as representatives of some of the more than 75 national organizations that participate in the program came together to hear updates from NIMH leadership and NIMH-supported researchers, and to dialogue with the Institute about the mental health needs of the constituents in their states.

Dr Joshua Gordon speaks at 2017 Outreach Partnership Program meeting

Dr. Gordon delivers opening remarks.

NIMH Director Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. opened the meeting with an update about NIMH initiatives and Institute research priorities. He featured a number of recent science highlights, including findings from the NIMH-funded Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) study on racial and ethnic differences in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment in health care systems across the country, and a study that found a pediatrics-based brief therapy had better outcomes than referral for youths with anxiety and depression, especially for Hispanic youth.

Presenting research about the genetic disorder 22q11 deletion syndrome which predisposes individuals to psychosis, Dr. Gordon described a model for understanding how genes can impact functioning at the cell, circuit, system, and behavior level.

Brad Martins with NAMI Arkansas asks a question during the opening session

Brad Martins with NAMI Arkansas asks a question during the opening session.

Finally, Dr. Gordon discussed the exciting possibilities for discoveries with big data approaches to research. He described a neuroimaging study that found patients with depression can be categorized into four unique subtypes defined by distinct patterns of abnormal connectivity in the brain. He also underscored the importance of the community’s involvement in research and specifically pointed to the potential for the NIH All of Us study to benefit individuals impacted by mental illness.

Partners later heard from the All of Us Director Eric Dishman who shared his personal story as a cancer patient, patient advocate, and social scientist, and outlined the program’s priorities and plans to engage and nurture relationships with one million volunteers.

Partner Sharing

Partner Sharing Session attendees viewing and discussing posters.

Partner Sharing Session.

A major highlight of the meeting were sessions where Partners shared how they are disseminating NIMH research in their communities. Over 65 Outreach Partners, National Partners, and Federal agencies shared their education and outreach activities in the Partner Sharing Sessions. The sessions provided a forum to learn how others across the country are disseminating research and educating the public, families, and other stakeholders about mental health.

During breakout sessions, meeting participants learned about Partner and Federal efforts to reach populations experiencing mental health disparities. One session featured initiatives to build resilience and prevent suicide in Native American and Alaska Native communities, including the Reducing the Incidence of Suicide in Indigenous Groups – Strengths United through Networks (RISING SUN) and, Wac'in Yeya: The Hope Project, a project of the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health – the NIMH Outreach Partner for the state -- which explores the factors that provide hope to Lakota youth. In the second session, partners learned about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Healthy Transitions initiative to help states build collaborative partnerships to enhance mental health services for transition age youth (TAY), the Tennessee Healthy Transitions Initiative - one of SAMHSA’s Healthy Transitions initiative grantees, and the California Youth Empowerment Network, an initiative of NIMH’s Northern California Outreach Partner, Mental Health America of California, which empowers TAY to be leaders in community and mental health system transformation.

Focus on Suicide Prevention

Michael Schoenbaum and Ed Boudreaux respond to questions from participants

Michael Schoenbaum and Ed Boudreaux respond to questions from participants.
Source: Matthew Shapiro

Suicide prevention was the focus of major portions of the meeting. Partners heard about efforts to better detect suicide risk in health care settings. NIMH economist Michael Schoenbaum, Ph.D. described research efforts with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the MHRN using electronic health records to identify groups of individuals at high risk for suicide. Edwin Boudreaux, Ph.D. presented findings from the ED-SAFE study of universal suicide screening and brief intervention in the emergency department setting.

OPP Panel members address questions during discussion on suicide prevention

Panel members address questions during discussion on suicide prevention.

A panel discussion, moderated by Jane Pearson, Ph.D., Chair of the NIMH Suicide Research Consortium, focused on several efforts to address suicide risk. NIMH scientist, Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H. described the development and use of the ASQ suicide screening tool in a community pediatric practice. In addition, Chief Medical Director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Christine Moutier, M.D., and Tessa Shapiro from the Crisis Text Line shared how their organizations are supporting those at risk for suicide and working to advance suicide prevention across the country.

Additional Research Updates

NIMH grantees presented research highlights in the areas of bipolar disorder, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and treatment-resistant depression. Partners learned about psychosocial interventions to improve outcomes for bipolar disorder from grantees at the University of Pittsburgh. Holly Swartz, Ph.D. described Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy, an intervention to improve mood and sleep for individuals with bipolar disorder. Tina Goldstein, Ph.D. featured her work on the adaptation of psychosocial interventions for youth, including dialectical behavioral therapy to reduce suicidal outcomes and brief motivational therapy to improve medication adherence.

Dr. Mayberg talks with Mary Callahan of the Mental Health Association of Massachusetts.

Dr. Mayberg talks with Mary Callahan of the Mental Health Association of Massachusetts.

Scientists also described neuroscience discoveries that are advancing the understanding and treatment of mental illness. Kerry Ressler, M.D., Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School provided an overview of what is being learned about the biological underpinnings of PTSD and how that knowledge will enhance efforts to prevent PTSD and increase resilience among trauma survivors. Helen Mayberg, M.D. of Emory University described her findings from a study testing the use of imaging to optimize treatment selection for depression.

Clinical Research Education

The meeting's final session addressed questions communities have about clinical trials participation. Social workers from the NIMH Human Subjects Protection Unit described current policies to protect research participants and specifically, protections that are in place for adults and children who participate in NIMH studies at the NIH Clinical Center such as a capacity assessment of a potential volunteers’ ability to provide informed consent. To provide an overview about the experience of individuals participating in an intramural study, two NIMH research investigators shared what individuals and families may expect when contacting NIMH to enroll and participate in a study. In addition, a former participant in an NIMH ketamine inpatient study shared her experience as a research volunteer.

Meeting Wrap-Up

Before heading home, Partners gathered in roundtable discussions to share their perspectives about the meeting presentations and how they would disseminate what they learned to their constituents. They identified the exciting projects and research-based interventions that can be implemented in their communities as well as the innovative translational work that is advancing the understanding and treatment of mental disorders. In addition, many reported being empowered to educate their constituents about participation in clinical trials, and being particularly inspired hearing from a former research participant. Finally, Partners were energized from learning from their peers about the mental health outreach and education projects being conducted in their communities.