Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Strategies to Advance the Relevance and Impact of Mental Health Services Research
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

April 5, 2024

Response Date:
September 01, 2024

Related Announcements


Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


The Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is seeking input on the impact of research supported by DSIR on mental health practice and mental health policy.  NIMH seeks input from a broad array of interested parties, including (but not limited to) research organizations, community organizations, academic institutions, professional societies, other government agencies, health services organizations and providers, alternative workforce organizations, those employed by or receiving funding from NIH, advocates, and people with lived experience of a mental illness. 


It is well known that the time between treatment development and treatment adoption by practices is long and influenced by the available workforce, the organization of and infrastructure support in practice settings, and consumer preferences and incentives to invest in the new treatment. As the lead federal agency for research on mental illnesses, the NIMH supports research to understand what information is needed to ensure treatments that are found to be effective are made available to everyone who needs them. In addition to testing the efficacy (does it work at all?) and effectiveness (does it work for everyone?) of person-level interventions, DSIR’s research agenda is to develop methods to turn the evidence-based care available to some into standard care for everyone.

Research that examines and develops ways to improve access, use, value, quality, delivery, organization, financing, and outcomes of mental health services is called mental health services research and focuses on methods to influence the provider, organization, and policy decisions to provide high quality delivery of evidence-based treatments. Mental health services research includes implementation science, systems science, health economics, management science, communications, delivery systems, health technologies, decision support, and policy science. While consumer outcomes (e.g., clinical and functional outcomes) are always primary in this research, mental health services interventions focus on the provider, practice/organizational setting, and policy levels to support best practices.

Information Requested/Request for Comments

The purpose of this RFI is to inform decisions about how to best focus the mental health services research agenda in DSIR. We seek information about scientific and practice methods and approaches to enhance the rigor, generalizability and value of DSIR’s research investments. We wish to learn what outcomes (e.g., clinical outcomes, functional outcomes, outcomes related to return on investment) are most important for our research to have an impact on mental health practice and policy that improves the quality of mental health care.

We also wish to learn the impact that NIMH’s experimental therapeutics requirement has had on the mental health services field. Under the experimental therapeutics requirement, “studies evaluate not only the clinical effect of the intervention, but also [must] generate information about the mechanisms underlying a disorder or an intervention response.”  We seek to learn about perceived fit of the experimental therapeutics requirement to clinical trials that test services interventions, policy interventions, and/or implementation strategies science compared to alternative methodologies (e.g., dismantling studies, factorial designs, moderator analyses) that could be used to understand how implementation strategies and service level interventions improve public health impact when tested in a clinical trial.

Finally, we seek input on the information needed by people with lived experience of mental health care, providers of this care, health and practice systems, health plans and policymakers that could be collected through NIMH-DSIR funded research.

The input sought by DSIR includes comments addressing any or all the following areas of interest. This RFI asks respondents to provide examples of how DSIR at NIMH might address these topics through research.

  1. The impact of requiring the experimental therapeutics approach (as opposed to allowing the use of other models in lieu of this approach) on the applicability, quality, and public health impact of mental health services research (the science of provider, system, service, and policy level interventions). Please provide examples of methods and scientific approaches, and best practices that are alternatives to the experimental therapeutic approach that help understand how, why, and for whom, the services or implementation intervention is effective (i.e., systems engineering, moderator analysis, factorial designs, etc).
  2. Information needed to inform mental health legislation, clinical or provider practice, on actions by insurers and payers, actions by patients and families (e.g.: clinical and functional outcomes, cost-effectiveness, intervention/system fit, return on investment, reach/access, etc).
  3. Areas of expertise needed to advance mental health services research, and how can these skills be cultivated, especially among early career researchers.
  4. Examples of mental health services research funded by NIMH and other institutes and organizations that made/had an impact on mental health policy. Examples may include impact on legislation, on clinical or provider practice, on actions by insurers and payers, on actions by patients and families.
  5. Research topics or questions that would make the greatest impact on access to high quality mental health care.

How to Submit a Response

All responses to this RFI must be submitted electronically on the RFI submission website and must be received by September 1, 2024, at 11:59 pm ET.

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 presentations and 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(s).

We look forward to your input and hope that you will share this RFI document with your colleagues or other interested parties.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Michael Freed, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-3747