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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Women Leading Mental Health Research

Illustration of four female figures and diamind-shaped icons. Text says National Institute of Mental Health Women Leading Mental Health Research.

In this section, NIMH highlights women who are early-career scientists conducting NIMH-funded research that plays a role in advancing our mission of transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.

Diversity in the scientific workforce enhances excellence, creativity, and innovation. Increasing diversity in the scientific workforce remains an important goal for NIMH and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Yet, women, particularly women of color and women from certain racial and ethnic groups, are underrepresented in doctorate-granting research institutions at senior faculty levels in most biomedical-relevant disciplines and may also be underrepresented at other faculty levels in some scientific disciplines.

Learn more about some of the women conducting mental health research, why their work is important, and their advice for young girls and women interested in pursuing a career in mental health research. There is also information on tools and resources to promote the entry, recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in mental health research careers.

Featured Scientists

Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye PhD
Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye

Dr. Oladunni Oluwoye is an Assistant Professor in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University. Dr. Oluwoye’s NIMH-supported research focuses on improving family engagement in coordinated specialty care programs for first episode psychosis, with a specific focus on mental health service utilization among Black families.

Q&A With Dr. Oluwoye

Why is your research so important?

Families play a major role in the initiation of care and providing support for people with mental illness. Families are also impacted by positive and negative experiences when seeking treatment and receiving treatment for their loved one; and these experiences impact their engagement. It’s important to study family engagement because it is often linked to clinical and process outcomes during treatment as well as the transition out of coordinated specialty care.

What advice would you give to girls or women considering a career in mental health research?

You will encounter people who are negative or outright unsupportive, and as a woman, particularly a Black woman, you will have to endeavor more. Don’t let anyone diminish your voice or your ideas because your mind and your greatness are needed to propel us all forward.

What is your favorite thing about working in mental health research?

I have the unique opportunity and pleasure of having Black and other racial and ethnic families share their personal experiences and stories with me about seeking and receiving mental health services. They trust me enough to relive and share their experiences with me. Their stories and their trust directly inform the work that I do and inspire me to make sure I do it well. Doing community-engaged research is what makes it meaningful, fun, and impactful.

What do you wish you had known about your career when you were in high school?

I wish I had been exposed to behavioral research and the insights it can offer into mental health and illness in high school. Science and research encompass so many different things beyond a lab and working with a Bunsen burner.

Mentorship and Training Videos

Discover NIMH: Mentorship and Training: NIMH is a launching pad for rising scientists. As a trainee at NIMH, you have access to expert mentors and opportunities to gain leadership experience.

Discover NIMH: Training the Next Generation of Researchers: NIMH is committed to research training and career development that prepares individuals to conduct innovative research in areas of program relevance that will advance the mission of the Institute.

Discover NIMH: Intramural Research Program Training: The NIMH Intramural Research Program offers training opportunities and resources meant to develop a diverse, highly qualified workforce. For more information, visit www.nimh.nih.gov/training.

Additional Resources