National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Research Revolution

January 19, 2009

An editorial in the international scientific journal Nature calls for a major revolution in mental illness research this decade.

While funding for mental illness research traditionally has lagged behind research for other illnesses, new biomedical science is expected to give researchers an unprecedented understanding of brain’s biology this decade, which may improve mental illness diagnoses and therapies.

Today, both diagnosis and medications typically are used to address the late-stage development for an illness. For example, people with schizophrenia often are not treated until they are experiencing delusions. The earlier stages of mental illness appear much less well defined and are less well understood, and yet, early intervention would lead to better outcomes for people living with these illnesses. 

In addition to shedding light on the biology behind the earlier stage of mental illness, the author notes that research also is needed to address the effectiveness and side effects of current medications, as well as environmental influences on mental illness.