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The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.

To continue fulfilling this vital public health mission, the Institute must foster innovative thinking and support a full array of novel scientific perspectives to further discovery in the evolving science of the brain, behavior, and experience. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illnesses.

To deliver high-quality, impactful research and promote translation of such research into clinical practice, services delivery, and policy, the Institute developed the NIMH Strategic Plan for Research to advance our mission and guide research. The most recent NIMH Strategic Plan for Research, published in 2020, builds on the successes of previous NIMH Strategic Plans, provides a framework for research to leverage new opportunities for scientific exploration, and addresses new challenges in mental health.

In this Strategic Plan for Research, NIMH outlines four high-level Goals as follows:

Goal 1: Define the Brain Mechanisms Underlying Complex Behaviors

Goal 2: Examine Mental Illness Trajectories Across the Life Span

Goal 3: Strive for Prevention and Cures

Goal 4: Strengthen the Public Health Impact of NIMH-Supported Research

These four Goals form a broad roadmap for the Institute’s research priorities over the next 5 years, beginning with fundamental science of the brain and behavior, and extending through evidence-based services that improve public health outcomes.