Approximately 1 in 4 people in the United States who are 18 and older suffer from mental illness. Yet the mental health system continues to be overwhelmed in nearly every way, and mental health research remains woefully underfunded.
As we've often noted, there aren't many big foundations that fund in the mental health area, and unfortunately, stigma concerns depress giving by individual donors. Despite some recent high moments—especially Ted Stanley's $650 million gift to the Broad Institute in 2014 and last year's $275 million pledge for veterans' mental health by Steve and Alex Cohen—mental health continues to be a tough funding space.
- Depressed About the State of Mental Health Funding? Read This
- Four Things to Know About That Mammoth Mental Health Gift
Which is why it's always encouraging to follow the grantmaking of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (BBRF), which is one of the world’s leading funders of mental health research. Its vision is “To bring joy of living to those affected by mental illness—those who are ill and their loved ones.”
Since it was established in 1987, BBRF has awarded over $365 million in grants to support the work of more than 4,000 scientists around the world. Specific areas of funding interest include ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia, and a host of other mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder, Fragile X Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. One of BBRFs primary funding vehicles to support scientific research in all of its areas of interest is the NARSAD Grant program. It's an interesting program, especially if you dig into some of the breakthroughs produced by its recent grantees, which BBRF showcased at the beginning of this year.
Earlier this spring, BBRF announced $3.9 million in NARSAD grant funding to 40 mid-career scientists working at 36 institutions across 10 countries. According to the press release, the grants will support basic research, new technologies, early intervention and diagnostic tools, and next-generation therapies for schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, PTSD and “other serious mental illnesses.” Funding also supports general mental illness research. Grants were awarded to scientists and investigators in various stages of their careers.