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Back To Vidyya Constituency Outreach & Education Program

National Institute Of Mental Health Enlists State Organizations For A Nationwide Partnership

The Constituency Outreach and Education Program is a 5-year communications initiative of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that enlists State organizations in a nationwide partnership to help speed the translation of science into mental health services. The program is a key element in a broader effort by NIMH to deliver science-based information on mental health to the public and health professionals and increase access to research-based, effective treatments.

"This program can help advance the courses of action, proposed in the recent Surgeon General's report on mental health, that will improve the quality of mental health in the Nation," said Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D. "These partnering organizations can lend their voices to efforts at the national level to reduce stigma and to encourage people with mental disorders to seek treatment."

When the program was launched, NIMH Director Steven E. Hyman, M.D., said, "Through a strong collaboration, NIMH and State-based organizations can be agents for change in critical areas—building a research agenda with relevance to the mental health needs of an increasingly diverse population and closing the gap between what we know and real-world practice. Together, we can accomplish our shared goal—to decrease the burden of mental illness on consumers, families, and the Nation as a whole."

In March 2000, NIMH named 18 Outreach Partners in 17 States and the District of Columbia, following a competitive selection process. Additional partners in the remaining States and Puerto Rico will be named later this year.

Each Outreach Partner conducts a mental health communications program for the public and health professionals through media relations, statewide coalition building, and outreach to minorities and special populations such as youth and the elderly. Partners also sponsor educational efforts focusing on primary care physicians, nurses, employers, and other groups, and promote recruitment of participants in NIMH-supported clinical studies. Partners are invited to provide direct feedback to NIMH on its research priorities.

NIMH provides Outreach Partners with ongoing technical assistance in project-related activities, research updates through annual meetings and the Web, opportunities to network on-line and in regional meetings with other State and national organizations, educational materials, and an annual stipend.

Several national organizations have a prominent role in the structure of the NIMH Constituency Outreach and Education Program. They include the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association, and the National Mental Health Association. A panel of nationally recognized mental health researchers, clinicians, and consumers provides expert assistance to the program. In addition, the program includes an Education Network of some 200 mental health, medical, and business groups, whose State or regional affiliates engage in coalitions with the Outreach Partners.

For organizations interested in applying for a partnership, a new Request for Applications has been posted on the NIMH Web site. Deadline for new applications is 7 July 2000.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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