In Brief

APA quickly responded to an attack on the National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) funding of basic behavioral research with a letter to Congress supporting the institute's broad research portfolio.

The attack came from a report released in December by the Stanley Foundation--the research arm of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)--that harshly criticized NIMH for not spending enough of its resources on serious mental illness. The report also asserted that NIMH funding for behavioral science, AIDS and basic neuroscience is misdirected and effectively shifts funds originally allocated for research on severe mental illnesses to other purposes.

In response, APA sent a letter to every member of Congress, citing flaws in the NAMI report. In particular, APA argued that although studying serious mental illness is core to NIMH's mission, the institute's mandate also includes furthering "the treatment and prevention of mental illness, the promotion of mental health and the study of psychological, social and legal factors that influence behavior."

APA also stated that if NIMH were to limit its research to serious mental illness, as the report suggests, progress would be all but halted in understanding illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, mild depression and eating disorders, as well as societal issues such as youth violence and suicide. APA's Board of Directors resolved that APA should "support a comprehensive research portfolio at NIMH and "work to reject any call to limit the mission of NIMH to research on serious and persistent mental illnesses."