Applying for NIMH funding – Tips & Tricks

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The process of receiving funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) can be a complicated one, but with proper planning, qualified mental health professionals can get the money they need to conduct a study that may end up making an important impact on the field of psychiatric medicine.

According to the NIMH, there are several different types of grants that people can apply for. There are research grants, research career and development grants, small business grants and others. The first step mental health professionals need to take is to determine which type of grant they need. Once they know which kind of grant will suit their particular project, the next step is to write an application. However, before individuals start writing this important document, there is a series of questions they should ask themselves that will need to be answered in the application. For example: What exactly are they intending to do? Why is this work important? How does this work relate to mental health? Has it been done before? What is the intended budget?

While they are writing their applications, researchers should send out a letter of intent to NIMH. This letter will include a detailed title of the proposed study, contact information for the principal investigators, the names of other key individuals who will be working on the study as well as any institutions that will be involved and the number and title of the funding opportunity.

How to write a winning grant
According to the NIMH, when officials are reviewing a grant they look for five things: significance, approach, innovation, investigator and environment. When researchers are writing their grant application, they need to make sure that they have clearly defined all of these criteria, or they may find themselves getting rejected.

The NIMH explained that there are some common mistakes that researchers make while writing their grant applications that professionals should do their best to avoid. For example, while explaining the significance of the study, researchers may fail to provide a compelling rationale for their project or may not properly explain how it could impact the mental health industry. Furthermore, when writing the approach some researchers tend to go overboard and propose too much work. While it’s good to provide plenty of detail, if a project seems too ambitions it may come off seeming as unfocused. Also, researchers need to be careful not to leave out important preliminary data that shows that their proposed study is feasible – or neglect to discuss potential pitfalls.

Furthermore, when discussing the environment of the study, some professionals will leave out mention of the necessary equipment they have or will forget to demonstrate that they have the institutional support they need to properly conduct their research.

Once researchers have completed their grant applications, they should give them a thorough read-through before sending them to the NIMH, to make sure that they did not make any of these common mistakes. This can prevent them from wasting their time and having to start the process all over again.

Planning to submit for NIMH funding
Once researchers have their grant ready, it’s time to submit it for review. Applications can now be sent electronically – like so much else in the health care industry. Researchers should check the NIMH website for details on when their application is due, since it will be different depending on the type of grant they are requesting.

The ACA may provide greater opportunities 
For researchers who are looking to conduct a mental health study – now may be the time. According to WhiteHouse.gov, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to expand access to mental health care across the U.S., and a significant portion of funding for the ACA will be dedicated to improving the mental health of Americans.

In particular, researchers who are interested in conducting trials to examine connections between mental health care and physical care may be in luck, considering that the ACA places an increased focus on medical providers and psychiatrists working together to offer coordinated care. John Grohol, Psy.D., explained more about this in Psychology Today.

“The law was originally designed to help increase incentives to physicians and other health and mental health professionals to look after people across the entire continuum of care — holistically, not just Patient X presenting with Z symptoms. It’s also focused on preventative care, which can help keep a person out of the hospital. There’s a rich research base that suggests that this sort of integrated, coordinated care is ultimately beneficial to the patient. It can help catch health issues before they become more serious concerns. It can also ensure that if a person gets a life-threatening diagnosis, they’re also seen by a professional for their emotional health needs,” Grohol wrote for the news source.

The ACA will expand mental health benefits to an estimated 60 million Americans. As more people are able to access psychiatrists and get the treatment they need, more light will be shone on what additional treatments may be needed. This will provide ample opportunities for researchers who are interested conducting studies that will contribute to the effort to improve the mental health of Americans.

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