Tackling Mental Health through Innovation

Hayden Tornabene

Rethinking the ways in which we address mental health issues is critical in the development of new and innovative technologies, treatments, and strategies. Instead of simply providing a diagnosis, treatment strategies should focus on the entire community of individuals affected by mental illness, said Dr. Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association. At the “Tackling Mental Health Through Innovation” forum hosted by CQ Roll Call on September 19 in Washington, D.C., Evans emphasized the importance of intervention strategies as a top priority to ensure at-risk individuals receive necessary care. “Let’s make sure that within the community we have the infrastructure, the knowledge, and the expertise to address these issues as they occur in natural settings,” he added.

Evans joined public health leaders for a discussion about important innovations to deliver more individualized and preventative mental health care. Mary Giliberti, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), emphasized the need for accelerated drug research and development. Giliberti said the need for incremental medications are as necessary as breakthrough medications in order to address the debilitating symptoms of the many pharmacological treatments available today.

“We sent a letter recently to the FDA saying we really want to see new drug discovery in this area,” she said. “We’d like FDA to use every tool that it got from the 21st Century Cures Act and the PDUFA VI agreement…[innovation] can’t come fast enough.”

The mental health ecosystem is highly interconnected and complex as many chronic conditions are affected by access to housing, food, basic care, and a basic work environment. Lori Reilly, Executive Vice President for Policy, PhRMA, reiterated the importance of public-private partnerships in addressing intricate mental health crises like the opioid epidemic: “[One] goal is [learning] how we speed [non-opioid analgesics] to market to ensure that patients that need pain-relief have adequate alternatives and hopefully, over time, reduce the addiction issues that are plaguing this country,” she said. “I don’t think this is an issue that one industry or government can solve on its own. We need to work together.”  

Click here to view videos from the event. 

Hayden Tornabene is a Science Policy Intern at Research!America.

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