Request for Information (RFI): Fostering Innovative Research to Improve Mental Health Outcomes Among Minority and Health Disparities Populations
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

August 7, 2020

Response Date:
December 11, 2020

Related Announcements

NOT-MH-21-060 - Notice to Extend the Response Date for NOT-MH-20-073

Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


The National Institute of Mental Health seeks time-sensitive input from all interested parties on the most innovative research and research priorities to improve mental health outcomes among racial/ethnic minority and health disparities populations.


Since early 2020, many communities across the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and it continues to have significant psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic effects. The public health threat of COVID-19 is especially dire among populations that already experience health disparities (e.g., racial/ethnic minorities, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, etc.) and other vulnerable groups (e.g., people living in nursing homes and prisons, etc.), which has led to disproportionately adverse consequences. As has been documented, those experiencing health disparities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are at increased risk of infection, death, and other negative consequences (e.g., job loss, unpaid leave, lost wages).

The COVID-19 pandemic and its disparate effects on the physical and likely mental health of minority and health disparities populations, illustrates the product of systemic racism and bias, which have been amplified with the recent episodes of police violence and murder perpetrated against unarmed Black men and women. These deaths and countless others highlight the public health problem of racism, which is at the root of health and mental health disparities among Black Americans. Addressing the mental health impact of systemic and individual racism on Black Americans and other people of color, as well as how racism translates into bias and prejudice, is imperative to improving mental health outcomes and achieving a vision whereby mental illnesses are prevented and cured for all.

Given the growing public recognition of the damage of disparities, the condemnation of all forms of racism, and the commitment to developing meaningful solutions to these public health problems, now is the time to establish a minority mental health agenda that appropriately addresses the complexities of racism, bias, and prejudice as well as other social and behavioral determinants of health, and their impacts on mental health outcomes. Thus, this Request for Information (RFI) seeks input on innovative research strategies to improve mental health and wellness in minority and health disparities populations, including addressing systemic racism, bias, and prejudice and identifying effective means to reduce their impact on mental health outcomes.

Information Requested

The NIMH seeks input to inform the next generation of innovative research and research priority areas to improve mental health outcomes among minority and health disparities populations in the U.S. Of interest are ideas about novel engagement strategies, culturally and linguistically appropriate service delivery approaches, services research methods, and multilevel/multidimensional strategies to accelerate progress toward findings that have both scientific and public health impact in these populations. NIMH supports studies that employ an experimental therapeutics approach, whereby clinical trials are designed not only to test the intervention effects on outcomes of interest, but also to inform understanding of the intervention’s mechanisms of action. Ideas about preventive, therapeutic, or services interventions are encouraged to highlight culturally salient potential target(s)/mechanism(s) and assessment of intervention-induced changes in the presumed target mechanism(s) that would improve outcomes.

Areas of possible comment include but are not limited to:

  1. Input on novel ways in which research on factors such as social determinants, cultural traditions, religion and spirituality, and historical trauma, etc. can be used to understand, prevent, and treat mental illnesses among minority and health disparities populations.
  2. Research that addresses racism and discrimination to test intervention strategies on mental health outcomes and informs mechanisms of action.
  3. Insights on previously unidentified or understudied social, behavioral, and/or organizational targets such as racism, bias, discrimination, stigma, etc. that may have high impact in exacerbating disparities in mental health outcomes across multiple minority and health disparities groups.
  4. Ideas about innovative systems-level or cross-systems factors that may significantly contribute to or reduce disparate mental health outcomes among minority and health disparities groups.
  5. Practical or promising mental health preventive and treatment interventions that are currently used in minority and health disparities populations but have not been rigorously tested.
  6. Ideas about new methods or tools that may be critical to measuring mental health outcomes in minority and health disparities populations, including the development of valid, reliable measures of psychological functioning with enough sensitivity to gauge differences within and between groups.
  7. Ideas about prevention interventions to address racism/discrimination at the individual, family and/or community level to reduce risk for mental disorders and improve mental health.

Submitting a Response

All comments must be submitted via email as text or as an attached electronic document. Your responses should be addressed to: by October 30, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, if a response is likely after the due date, please inform the NIMH contact below. Please include the Notice number (NOT-MH-20-073) in the subject line. Responses to this RFI are voluntary. The submitted information will be reviewed by NIH staff.

This request is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government. The NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information. The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. However, responses to the RFI may be reflected in future funding opportunity announcements. The information provided will be analyzed and may be aggregated in reports. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation.


Please direct all inquiries to:

NIMH Office for Disparities Research and Workforce Diversity (ODWD)

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