In July 2014, Care for Your Mind posted an introduction to the National Institute of Health (NIH)’s “Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies” (BRAIN) initiative and the urgent need for advocacy in Congress to support its funding. Because CFYM is a platform for people living with mood disorders, family members affected by mood disorders, and other stakeholders in mental health care, we have high hopes that research on the brain will yield better treatments and tools for addressing mental health conditions.
During a White House briefing in April 2013, President Obama stated the goal of BRAIN Initiative is to “accelerate the development and application of new technologies that will enable researchers to produce dynamic pictures of the brain that show how individual brain cells and complex neural circuits interact at the speed of thought.”
The executive branch led the charge by committing $1 million to jump-start the project. In response to advocacy by mental health, medical, and other brain-related advocacy groups, as well as people like you, Congress stepped up to the plate, appropriating the funding necessary to support this initiative. Congress agreed that funding the BRAIN is the right thing to do.
As a result, the NIH announced in September its first wave of investments in the BRAIN initiative. The $46 million funds more than 100 investigators in 15 states and several countries working on 58 projects, seeking new understanding of the brain to support the development of tools, treatments, and cures. Most of the grants “focus on developing transformative technologies that will accelerate fundamental neuroscience research.”
Make your voice heard
Mental health advocates still have a full plate of issues, some at the federal level, the most pressing of which is the 21st Century Cures legislation. The Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously in May to send the bill to a floor vote and expect to vote on the legislation this week. In addition to making research more inclusive of people with lived experience, the 21st Century Cures Act supports additional funding for the BRAIN Initiative. Please send a letter to your representative asking them to vote “Yes” for the 21st Century Cures Act. Learn more about the 21st Century Cures Act from DBSA.
Also, If you are able to travel to Washington, DC, consider joining the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance as we once again partner with the National Council for Behavioral Health Hill Day on October 5-6, 2015. Join over 1,000 mental health advocates as we visit the offices of Congressional Representatives and Senators to ask them to support mental health policies including funding BRAIN.
We applaud the President and the Congress for moving the Brain Initiative forward. We will share new developments and opportunities for advocacy as they emerge.
- Which issues are at the top of your advocacy list?