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ARRA Investments in Mental Health Services

Public Health Burden
Most people with mental disorders in the United States are untreated or undertreated. In particular, the needs of older adults, ethnic minorities, rural populations and other special populations are more likely to go unmet1.  More research is needed to improve access to and quality of care, and to find more innovative ways to deliver services to the people who need them the most.

Health Services for Older Adults
Older adults living within the community often need more health services than younger adults but may have more difficulty gaining access to health services.  ARRA funded grants are exploring ways to improve their access to care, including:
  • A program aimed at improving the effectiveness of depression treatment among elderly residents in home healthcare.2
  • Efforts to improve communication between older adults and clinicians, and determine how better communication may lead to better patient satisfaction and treatment adherence.3
  • An evaluation of a home-based intervention to treat depression among elderly African-Americans.4
Health Services for Minorities
Minority populations face unique obstacles to adequate mental health care services. ARRA funding is allowing for new research projects designed to overcome these barriers to care, including:
  • A program to forge partnerships between academics and community leaders to conduct interdisciplinary research into ways to improve treatment of bipolar disorder among Hispanic populations.5
  • A community-based program aimed at enhancing quality of life among members of minority ethnic groups recovering from mental disorders.6
  • A study to develop, test and disseminate culturally appropriate, consumer-friendly materials about autism for the Latino community.7
Health Services for Rural Populations
Medical and psychiatric professionals usually are situated in and around major metropolitan areas. As a result, rural populations often must travel great distances to receive care, which is not always possible. ARRA funding is allowing for more research into alternative means for providing health services, such as telemedicine. Research includes:
  • A study that will expedite data collection of a telemedicine program designed to reduce disparities among rural populations in general.8
  • A study addressing the feasibility of telepsychiatry among rural youth.9
Health Services for Youth
Disparities of access to health services can disproportionately affect children and adolescents who have mental disorders or who have a family member with a mental disorder.  Several ARRA-funded grants specifically target youth and aim to improve access to services for this vulnerable population. A few examples include:
  • A program designed to teach autistic adolescents the skills necessary for employment.10
  • An intervention for mothers with depression who participate in a low-income child development program.11
  • A program linking researchers with community members to develop an intervention to prevent behavioral disorders among children whose mothers are in prison.12
  • A program to reduce stigma surrounding mental disorders, and increase awareness of mental health treatment, among college students.13

  1. Wang et al, Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:629-640.
  2. 3R01MH082425-02S1 -- Effectiveness of a Depression Care Management Initiative in Home Healthcare -- Bruce, Martha (MA)
  3. 1R01MH081098-01A2 -- Mental Health Communication in Elderly Primary Care Visits and Economic Outcomes -- Tai-Seale, Ming (TX)
  4. 1RC1MH090770-01 -- Cost Effectiveness of a Home Support Program for Depression in Black Elders -- Gitlin, Laura N (PA)
  5. 3P20MH068662-05S1 -- Bipolar Illness Intervention in Hispanic Communities -- Bowden, Charles Lee (TX)
  6. 1R21MH086136-01A1 CBPR on Active Living and Recovery for Racial/Ethnic Groups with Mental Illness -- Iwasaki, Yashitaka (PA)
  7. 1RC1MH088600-01 -- Disseminating Scientific Information on Autism to the Latino Community—Lajonchere, Clara M (CA)
  8. 3R01MH076908-04S1 -- Telemedicine-based Collaborative Care to Reduce Rural Health Disparities -- Fortney, John C (AR)
  9. 1R21MH079984-01A1 -- A Randomized Exploratory Study of Telepsychiatry Outcomes in Rural Youth -- Winters, Nancy (OR)
  10. 1RC1MH088812-01 -- JobTips: An Employment Preparation Program for Adolescents and Young Adults with ASD -- Strickland, Dorothy Cay (FL)
  11. 3K23MH074079-04S1 -- Maternal Depression and Early Head Start -- Silverstein, Michael (MA)
  12. 1R21MH081921-01A1 -- Locally-tailored Prevention Programming for Children of Incarcerated Mothers -- Miller, Alison (MI)
  13. 1RC1MH089757-01 -- Mental Health First Aid for College Students: A multi-campus randomized controlled trial—Speer, Nicole K (CO)

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