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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIMH Strategic Plan Paves Way for Advances

On May 20, the National Institute of Mental Health released its Strategic Plan for Research. The new plan provides a framework for advancing research priorities that support the institute’s mission: To transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure.

“Mental illnesses are common in the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year,” said NIMH director Dr. Joshua Gordon. “Improving treatment for people with mental illnesses will depend on continued research to define the biological underpinnings of these disorders, as well as ongoing translational and clinical research to turn that knowledge into new or improved treatment options.”

A brain and a neuron

Over the past 5 years, NIMH-supported research has revealed hundreds of places in the genome linked to mental illnesses; fostered the development of new tools and resources that have dramatically increased the ability to study the brain; played a role in the development of two novel antidepressants; and proved the utility of coordinated specialty care for first-episode psychosis—resulting in nationwide implementation through state-supported mental health clinics.

The new plan builds on the successes of previous NIMH strategic plans and provides a framework for scientific research and exploration to address challenges in mental health over the next 5 years and beyond. It will be updated regularly to keep pace with ever-evolving scientific approaches and research priorities that may lead to new discoveries. 

NIMH developed the plan with input from a variety of stakeholders, including the National Advisory Mental Health Council, federal and private partners, feedback from organizations, advocacy groups and people with lived experiences and their families, and NIMH and NIH leadership and staff. 

“Over the last decade, we’ve seen incredible scientific advances that have rapidly transformed neuroscience and mental health care,” said Gordon. “While there is still more work to do and challenges ahead, the future is bright.”

The plan is available at

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