HOW THE WEB IS CHANGING US
NIMH invests in
The institute seeks to fund interventions
that are ‘pushing the envelope.’
BY SADIE DINGFELDER • Monitor staff
Only about 40 percent of the 60 million people in the United States with
a mental health problem receive
any care at all, and only about 33
percent of that group receive what
the field considers to be minimally
acceptable care, said National
Institute on Mental Health
program officer Adam Haim, PhD,
one therapy. However, the agency is
interested in research that explores
ways to reach multiple people
simultaneously, Haim said.
“We want to have and fund
the grants that are really pushing
the envelope, we want to rapidly
test and refine these technologies,
and we want rapid uptake of
interventions,” he said.
at APA’s 2011 Annual Convention.
To bridge that gap, NIMH is funding researchers who are
developing ways to use modern communication technology,
such as personal digital assistants, cellphones and the Web, to
reach more people, he said.
“Clearly there is a need for interventions for individuals who
are being underserved or receiving no services at all,” said Haim.
Most of NIMH’s IT-enhanced grants are developing
interventions that harness personal computers, and about
60 percent use the Web, he said. However, “we are seeing a
shift toward mobile devices, and that shift is going to happen
quickly,” Haim said. Within NIMH, the biggest funders of IT-
enhanced research are the Division of Services and Intervention
Research and the Division of AIDS Research, he said. And while
Telehealth is clearly a growing
practice area, observed session chair Linda Campbell, PhD, but
many questions remain unanswered about its ethical and legal
implications. To begin to answer those questions, APA and the
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards have
formed a joint task force and begun to collect different groups’
comments on the issue, she said.
The legal, regulatory and reimbursement landscape for
telepsychology is also in flux, said Deborah C. Baker, JD,
director of regulatory affairs for APA’s Practice Directorate.
Three states — California, Kentucky, and Vermont — have
enacted telehealth laws, and several state licensing boards have
opined on the issue, she said.
“If you do live in a state that has a state telehealth law, make
most IT enhanced grants are large-scale research grants, known
as R01s, the agency is increasingly using R44 and R43 grants to
fund small businesses’ efforts to develop technology, Haim said.
Most of NIMH’s IT-enhanced intervention based research
uses technology as an adjunct to traditional in-person, one-on-
sure you understand what definition of telehealth they are
using, and whether it applies to you,” she said. n
For more about the current state of telepsychology, visit