The Complete Guide to the NIMH Website
The National Institute of Mental Health has a simple mission: As the official U.S. description goes, it “conducts and supports research that seeks to understand, treat, and prevent mental illness.” That statement sums up more than 60 years of researching the causes of mental illness and then dutifully reporting to the general public.
First created by the National Mental Health Act in 1946, the NIMH was part of four planned institutes overseen by the National Institutes of Health. The NIMH, in particular, evolved over the following decades, expanding into health services such as drug and alcohol abuse. The NIMH refocused and emerged in the 1990s as a complex organizations with close ties to the National Advisory on Mental Health and a number of different branches, many operating on the international level.
Throughout its history the NIMH specialized in studying mental health problems and establishing key definitions that helped insure state or federal funding for many mental treatments. Without the NIMH’s work, the trauma associated with rape, natural disasters, and crime would have remained unexamined by the government for much longer. The psychological effects of aging or minority conditions in America would have gone unnoticed. Even drug and alcohol addiction would not have been as readily viewed as mental health issues.
Today the NIMH focuses more on public interaction and outreach instead of pure research. This means the NIMH website is not only a source of data, it is also a resource for curious viewers, patients, professionals, and the family members of those suffering from mental illnesses. If you have never been to the NIMH website but have a reason to learn more about mental health – or seek help – then search for the homepage and start looking.
Getting Around the NIMH Website
With so many projects, the NIMH has a lot of information to provide through its web portal. This can make its homepage a confusing place to find what you are looking for. It is a good start when you want for the latest updates or find announcements and science news, but when it comes to specifics you will need to visit the correct section of the site. Key sections include:
Basic Brain Information and Education: This portion of the site is a resource for teachers and educators that want to teach different levels of students about mental illness and how the brain works (according to the strongest theories, at least). Both video and audio options are available, and links to health topics offer the chance to do more research. The NIMH also provides thorough statistics concerning mental illness.
Aid and Solutions: The NIMH provides a guide for immediate help for people struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts (and for helping friends). For long term treatment, there is a more in-depth guide on finding help for mental illness, including valuable search engines. There are sections devoted to recovering from trauma, teaching you about mental health medications, and introducing you to psychotherapy techniques.
Outreach Projects: The goal of the NIMH’s outreach programs is to spread useful information and practices among patients, families, providers, and the wider community. This section gives you many different methods to get involved in research and connects you to a number of mental health providers.
Mental Disorders: This part of the website can be a little confusing, because the NIMH has a different portal for anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and other issues. Begin at the NIMH homepage and focus on the Mental Health Information tabs located at the center of the web page. You can search through disorders by topic or age.
Ongoing Research and Funding: Research and funding remains a key part of the NIMH, but this section is primarily for companies and professionals trained in research or looking for grants. However, you can also find descriptions of overall strategy and plans for a bird’s eye view of what the NIMH is working on. If you are interested in helping out research, there is a list of studies where the NIMH needs volunteers and participants.
NIMH Publications: This publication section, ideal for students, contains a vast number of reports on finished studies and general mental health subjects. Publications are divided into booklets, brochures, and fact sheets depending on how much you want to learn. Several different methods to search for publications are provided.
On the NIMH Itself: If you want to learn more about the NIMH and how it is organized, or want to find a job in the organization, this section is for you. Links to the major branches of the NIMH are provided, which can make it easy to find a shortcut to the service you are looking for.