National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

NAMI's Support for Federal Funding for Mental Illness

  • NAMI strongly supports efforts to substantially increase federal funding to ensure that there are adequate resources for promising biomedical research into brain disorders and genetics and supports initiatives focused on neural receptors, receptor subtypes, and modulators. NAMI applauds efforts in Congress and from the Bush Administration to increase funding for NIH, and urges that increases enacted in FY 2003 for the NIMH be directed to the most serious and disabling brain disorders. NAMI also supports changes in the NIMH mission that will place greater emphasis on the most serious brain disorders—including schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder—in its research portfolio.
  • NAMI supports targeted increases in funding for programs at the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that are focused on assisting states and communities in replicating evidence-based programs that serve children and adults living with severe mental illnesses.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

NAMI is extremely grateful to bipartisan leadership in Congress, and on the part of President Bush, to complete the goal of doubling the federal investment in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 2003. Completing this effort is a major achievement that you and your colleagues in Congress can truly can be proud of and that people with severe mental illness and their families are extremely grateful.

Thanks to important research funded by NIMH, through its current $1.118 billion budget, critical advances have been achieved in treatment for people living with serious brain disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, over the last decade. But we still have a long way to go. Medical science has yet to produce cures for severe mental illnesses. Furthermore, the most promising evidence-based treatments and services remain inaccessible for people who need and deserve them. From biomedical research to services research, NAMI believes that research on severe mental illnesses are under-funded. The proposed FY 2003 investment lacks equitable proportion to the scientific opportunities that exist and the tremendous burden of cost and pain that such disorders impose on NAMI families and the general public.

According to a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization, no less than four of the top ten causes of disability worldwide are severe mental illnesses. Major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder account for an estimated 20 percent of total disability resulting from all diseases and injuries. Based on NIH’s own estimates, for every research dollar spent, 15 cents is allocated to AIDS, 10 cents on cancer, two cents on heart disease, and less than one cent on schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses. In contrast, the total costof schizophrenia to society, per research dollar spent, is $161.26, compared to only $65.65 for heart disease, $9.96 for cancer, and $6.86 for AIDS.

Clearly, more equitable, increased investment is needed for NIMH. Therefore while NAMI strongly applauds the increases proposed by the Bush Administration for NIH, NAMI also recognizes that the recommended increase for NIMH lags far behind the nearly 14% increase proposed for the other NIH institutes. NAMI therefore urges Congress to enact an equitable increase for NIMH relative to increases for the entire NIH as part of the FY 2003 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill.

Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS)

The budget of the Center for Mental Health Services at SAMHSA contains a number of important programs that assist states and localities in increasing access to treatment and supports and improving the overall quality of services. NAMI urges Congress to support the following priorities as part of the FY 2003 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill:

  • PATH – NAMI strongly supports the $7 million increase proposed by the President for the Projects to Assist Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program to help homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. The Administration’s proposed increase for PATH would result in an additional 31,000 homeless individuals with severe mental illnesses receiving services. Given the disproportionate representation of adults with severe mental illness among the chronically homeless population, NAMI strongly supports the Administration’s efforts to place the highest priority in meeting their needs for permanent supportive housing and community-based services.
  • Mental Health Block Grant – The President’s budget proposes freezing the Mental Health Block Grant program at its FY 2002 level of $433 million. As a result of budget cuts at the state level, we are witnessing a continued widening of gaps in the public mental illness treatment system. The consequences of these emerging cracks in the service system are readily apparent, not just to our consumer and family membership, but also to the public: the growing number of homeless adults on our nation’s streets who receive no treatment services, well publicized tragic incidents involving individuals with severe mental illness who are not accessing adequate treatment services and the growing trend of "criminalization" of mental illness and the stress it is placing on state and local jails and prisons. NAMI supports an increase for the Mental Health Block grant program for FY 2003 and to target any additional funds for the program to replication of evidence-based service delivery models for persons with severe mental illness in the community. In particular, NAMI urges Congress to direct CMHS to target Block Grant funding to assertive community treatment (including the Program of Assertive Community Treatment, PACT).
  • Jail Diversion – The President’s budget requests $5 million for the CMHS Jail Diversion program for FY 2003. People with serious mental illness are frequently arrested for minor offenses, many times as a result of homelessness, and then they are incarcerated in jails where their mental health needs are not met. There are also significant numbers of persons with serious mental illness who come in contact with the police, but are not arrested. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 16% of all inmates in state and federal jails have a severe mental illness, as many as 283,000 people with serious mental illnesses were in jail or prison - more than four times the number in state mental hospitals. The CMHS Jail Diversion program assists states and communities in developing treatment programs to get non-violent offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and into treatment. NAMI urges support for the Bush Administration’s request for the CMHS Jail Diversion program for FY 2003.
  • CMHS Discretionary Programs – The President’s budget proposes a $7 million reduction for the CMHS Projects of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) for FY 2003. Included in this proposal is a reduction for the Community Action Grants program. The Community Action Grants at CMHS are a critical link in federal efforts to support knowledge dissemination and replication of evidence-based practices, including integrated treatment, jail diversion, police training and cultural competence. There is growing concern that without guidance from Congress, CMHS will discontinue Community Action Grants in FY 2003. Communities have used these grants constructively to stimulate the development of good programs and services for people with severe mental illnesses. NAMI supports continuation of the Community Action Grants program in FY 2003.

Top Story

NAMI Washington State Comments on PCORI
Read testimony from Washington State on the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Senate Set to Vote on FY 2011 “Omnibus” Spending Bill
The Senate is expected to vote as soon as today on an FY 2011 “omnibus” spending bill that integrates 12 separate spending bills that would fund most federal agencies through the end of the current fiscal year (September 20, 2011).

Understanding the Issue:

NAMI Sign-on Letter to HELP Committee (PDF)
Read NAMI's support of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA).

NAMI Washington State Comments on PCORI
Read testimony from Washington State on the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Senate Set to Vote on FY 2011 “Omnibus” Spending Bill
The Senate is expected to vote as soon as today on an FY 2011 “omnibus” spending bill that integrates 12 separate spending bills that would fund most federal agencies through the end of the current fiscal year (September 20, 2011).

NAMI Comments to Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research June 5, 2006
NAMI comments to Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research on comparartive effectiveness of pharmacological treatment of depression report.

Federal Funding for Mental Illness Research
Learn more about federal funding of mental illness research and services through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Protection of Human Subjects in Research
Learn more about protections for individuals impaired by severe mental illness involved in research.

NAMI's Position on the Issue:

NAMI Presses Congress for FY 2005 Funds for Mental Illness Research and Services
For too long severe mental illness has been shrouded in stigma and discrimination. These illnesses have been misunderstood, feared, hidden, and often ignored by science. Only in the last decade have we seen the first real hope for people with these brain disorders through pioneering research that has uncovered both a biological basis for these brain disorders and treatments that work.

Senators Fall Short in Effort to Funds Medical Research
The Senate on September 10 passed the FY 2004 Labor-HHS-Education bill (HR 2660) by a vote of 94 to 0, ending seven days of partisan, and at times bitter, debate over overtime pay and spending for education and health. Final passage occurred after the Senate rejected an effort to add an additional $1.5 billion to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget – including the National Institute of Mental health (NIMH).

Federal Funding for Mental Illness Research
A description of NAMI’s position on NIMH funding of mental illness research.


NAMI's Advocacy Goals and Strategies:

NAMI Policy Research Institute Task Force on Serious Mental Illness Research
NAMI's Policy Research Institute convened a task force on research to help identify the ways in which significant advances in research and treatment can be achieved. Their full report, "Roadmap to Recovery & Cure" is now available.

Federal Funding for Mental Illness Research
NAMI’s current advocacy goals and strategies regarding increased funding for research into severe brain disorders.

Protection of Human Subjects in Research
NAMI's current advocacy plans regarding protection of human subjects in research into severe brain disorders.

Take Action!

Contact Your Representatives about Research Issues
Use our online advocacy tool to send a letter to your elected officials right now and make your voice heard on these issues. Use our suggested text or compose a letter of your own.

Sign Up for E-News Alerts
Keep up with the latest developments on this issue by subscribing to NAMI E-News, our free action alert newsletter.

Other Resources:

2003 Convention Presentation by Dr. Thomas Insel
Slide presentation delivered by Thomas Insel, M.D., director, NIMH during the Research Plenary at the 2003 NAMI Convention in Minneapolis. This is a large file (3.69 MB) and requires Microsoft PowerPoint to view.

Mental Health America
A guide for decision-making about participating in a research study.

The "For the Public" section of the site offers information for consumers and families about advances by NIMH-supported researchers, fact sheets about NIMH research, and educational materials about research on mental disorders.

Office for Human Research Protections
The office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that oversees IRB compliance.

Outline of the Final Report for the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health
Accelerating “research to cure and prevent mental illness” is a recommendation of the national commission to address mental illness.