NIMH Advisory Council Approves Plan for Prevention Research

The National Advisory Mental Health Council approved 'A Plan for Prevention Research for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)' at its May meeting. The report integrates and summarizes the conclusions and recommendations of the NIMH Prevention Research Steering Committee and the Institute of Medicine (IoM) Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders, regarding the advancement of research on the prevention of mental disorders. In approving the report, the National Advisory Council also urged that NIMH appoint an ongoing working group to oversee the implementation of the report and to integrate activities across the Institute.

The report of the NIMH Prevention Research Steering Committee, 'The Prevention of Mental Disorders: A National Research Agenda,' emerged from a comprehensive review and analysis by NIMH of its scientific activities in the field of prevention of mental disorders in order to chart future directions. Hundreds of scientists in psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, sociology, and other fields contributed to the report. The IoM report, 'Reducing Risks for Mental Disorders: Frontiers for Preventive Intervention Research,' was prepared in response to a 1990 request by the Senate Appropriations Committee for an integrated evaluation of current research, with detailed recommendations for a prevention research agenda. This request was advanced by APA and the National Prevention Coalition.

The present report combines the recommendations from these two important documents to provide a comprehensive, integrated agenda for the future development of the field of prevention science at NIMH. It recommends three broad policies: support for prevention research in mental health, support for the training of prevention scientists, and support for and development of the organizational and policy infrastructure of the field. The report also urges that an additional $24.2 million be targeted at prevention research activities at NIMH by FY 1999--an increase of nearly 50% from FY 1994.

In collaboration with the National Prevention Coalition, APA has long pressured NIMH to increase its prevention research. Last year, APA successfully promoted language for the reports accompanying the House and Senate Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bills. This language called for additional support for the training of prevention researchers and specifically asked for the inclusion of a prevention researcher on the National Advisory Mental Health Council. This year, APA is working again with the National Prevention Coalition to advance support for prevention research training.

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