UC Davis Gets Grant to Study the Origins of Mental Illness

Something that needs to be discussed more is mental health. It’s something that impacts all of us, not just those who have a diagnosed mental illness. However, for those who suffer from debilitating symptoms, life can be tough. And it also can be difficult for their families and loved ones, too. These difficulties include the stigma surrounding mental illness and a lack of accessibility to treatment options. In fact, a study conducted in 2018 found lack of access is the root cause of our current mental health crisis.

However, treating mental illness is only one part of the puzzle. One of the other aspects that is incredibly important for mental health is having well-funded research on mental illness. Proper research can allow us to understand root causes, mitigation, treatment, and biomarkers early on, potentially even during pregnancy. That’s why our news story today concerns UC Davis Conte Center’s $15.7 million grant award. This grant funding will go towards studying the origins of mental illness.

And while we’re talking about mental health here is a grant we have listed on GrantWatch that will go to USA State and Tribal Education agencies to address mental health issues in school-age youth.

So let’s talk more about this story:

Mental Illness: Where Does it Originate?

Okay, before we even get into the research part of this, we need to talk about the overall mental heal statistics in the United States. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of people experiencing distress, but numbers were rising even before that. And in 2021, startling statistics have been reported: 19% of adults are currently diagnosed with some form of mental illness, with 4.55% experiencing a serious mental illness. So, 19% of adults in the United States equals about 45 million people. That’s over double the population of the state of Florida!

We do know that mental illness can be triggered by several different factors. These could include a predisposition because of genetic factors, extreme stress, a traumatic brain injury, and similar factors. The research conducted through UC Davis could tell us even more about its origins and lead to breakthroughs in understanding and treating mental illnesses. This is why the National Institute of Mental Health awarded this grant.

Here’s Why This Research Is So Relevant

Just a bit of extra background:

When a mother is exposed to a pathogen like a virus or bacterial infection, her body triggers an auto-immune response. Sometimes that response can trigger neuro=developmental changes in her child. The original grant awarded by the NIMH to fund the Conte Center focused on this. And researchers discovered that that autoimmune responses can result in children with changed brain development. The researchers said that these changes could begin to show up early after the child is born.

However, most pregnancies do not result in these changes. So the question is, which pregnancies are at risk and why?

What will the research will look into?

This research will examine how infections during pregnancy lead to psychiatric illness and developmental disorders years later. The research will discover how to detect, prevent, and treat these disorders. And UC Davis is prepared to tackle this challenge. Thanks to a grant awarded in 2016, the University opened the UC Davis Conte Center. This grant will extend funding for that research facility for another five years.

According to the research team over at UC Davis, 15% to 20% of people worldwide suffer from psychiatric illness and developmental disorders. The issue is that current treatments are only partially effective.

Here’s what co-principal investigator Kimberley McAllister, director of the Center for Neuroscience and a professor in the Department of Neurology, School of Medicine had to say about this project

:”The rates of schizophrenia and autism have dramatically increased following pandemics in the past, and we are deeply concerned about a similar impending wave of psychiatric illness following the current COVID-19 pandemic. Newly funded projects in our center will reveal approaches to mitigate disease in offspring and even to prevent it in future pregnancies.” — Kimberly McAllister

This kind of research could be absolutely groundbreaking. If researchers can understand more about these illnesses, mitigation and treatment may be more effective. This kind of research truly could be the future of mental health. As we can get closer to understanding the questions posed in this research, many suffering people may be able to find relief.

GrantWatch Understands How Important Mental Health Is

At GrantWatch, we understand how important mental health is. We understand that conducting research like this is important. That’s why we are so proud to have several categories that may be of great interest to the reader of this blog. Firstly, we have a mental health-gran category, with over 350 current grants. These grants are for nonprofits, researchers, clinicians, and pretty much anyone operating within the mental health space. We also have a research grant category. These grants are available for researchers in many different fields. There are also several other grant categories on GrantWatch that may interest you, so run through our list!

If you have any questions about these grant categories or anything else, feel free to reach out! You can reach our amazing customer-support team by calling 561-249-4129.

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