NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Curious Agenda Of Mental Health Agency

December 6, 1999

The National Institute of Mental Health, the federal agency charged with funding research into mental illness, is throwing money at studies which have nothing to do with mental illness, charges the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. The advocacy group claims the agency has "failed in its primary mission to support research into schizophrenia, manic-depressive illness and other severe mental illnesses."

  • The alliance claims the institute funds research into arcane areas such as aggression in bluebirds and social change in the former Czechoslovakia.
  • Although there are about 2.4 million people in the U.S. with schizophrenia and 288,000 with AIDS, the agency spends $60.2 million on AIDS and $50.1 million on schizophrenia, according to its 1997 budget.
  • Only 36 percent of the agency's research money in 1997 went to studies of severe mental illnesses, while at least 15 percent of its funds went to diseases that are the responsibilities of other federal agencies.
  • About 5.6 million people nationwide suffer from severe mental illnesses, at a cost of $74 billion annually for their care.

The NIMH director defends the AIDS funding on the grounds that it was the result of a Congressional directive, and he claims moves are afoot to rectify the situation.

Source: Steve Sternberg, "Mental Health Research 'Fails,'" USA Today, December 6, 1999.


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