Basic behavioral research has much to offer the understanding and treatment of mental illness, but translating that research into practice has not been encouraged enough, according to a recent report.
In "Translating Behavioral Science Into Action," a workgroup of the National Institute of Mental Health's National Advisory Mental Health Council, recommends 12 ways to incorporate more basic behavioral findings into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness and the promotion of mental health. They include:
Funding more translational research at National Institute of Mental Health, including the translation of basic research on behavioral risk factors into prevention and treatment interventions.
Encouraging the development, synthesis and dissemination of behavioral scientific knowledge on mental illness to clinicians, policy-makers and others interested in the care and treatment of the mentally ill.
Training researchers at all levels to conduct translational behavioral research.
The report also highlights three research areas that it considers ripe for producing results that can be easily translated into practice:
Basic behavioral processes in mental illness, including cognition, emotion, motivation and personality.
Functional abilities in mental illness, including the abilities of people with mental illness to carry out personal, educational, family and work responsibilities.
Contextual influences on mental illness and its care, including how family, culture and social services interact to affect the treatment and care of people with mental disorders.
The work group was co-chaired by Anne Petersen, PhD, of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Robert Levenson, of the University of California, Berkeley.