Nonprofit Creates Fund to Study Mental Health Impact of Pandemic

Institute for Mental Health Research

The Institute for Mental Health Research (IMHR), an Arizona based nonprofit, announced the creation of the ‘COVID-19 Mental Health Research Impact Fund’ to provide funding for innovative Arizona researchers as they study the worsening mental health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s critical that we understand the ways that COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of our children, families, health providers, as well as our most vulnerable populations, and the Institute for Mental Health Research is perfectly positioned to lead such an effort,” says Keith Crnic, Ph.D.,  IMHR Chief Science Officer. “An investment in IMHR’s COVID-19 Mental Health Research Impact Fund will provide the opportunity for Arizona’s most talented researchers to meet this need and protect the mental health of all Americans who are facing the consequences of this pandemic.”

Arizonans have found themselves at the epicenter of a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks, contending with the impact of prolonged periods of isolation, uncertainty, joblessness and fear as this crisis continues to unfold. These feelings are widespread. According to an April 2020 Kaiser Family Foundation poll, nearly half of all Americans reported that the COVID-19 pandemic was harming their mental health. Similarly, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that text messages to the Disaster Distress Hotline increased by more than 1,000 percent in the month of April alone.

“COVID-19 is a biological disease, but the pandemic is a social situation – one that has serious consequences for our mental health. People are struggling with financial losses, loneliness, new demands and increased hassles, and strained relationships. This all has a dramatic impact on our stress and coping, which in turn affect our decision-making and our behavior,” says Michelle ‘Lani’ Shiota, Associate Professor of Psychology at ASU. “What we know about effective ways of managing anxiety, social isolation, and stress comes from a pre-COVID time. It’s not yet clear what toolkit is needed to get us through the pandemic with mental as well as physical health intact. For us to feel better, be better, and make better decisions, we must support new research tailored to the unique challenges we now face.”

While the effects of the coronavirus on the human body are still being studied, a large gap in research exists for understanding the mental health toll of this seismic shift in our everyday lives. Ignoring the psychological toll of this crisis any longer could result in untold damage to our collective mental health for years to come.

“By providing Seed Grants to Arizona researchers, the state’s brightest minds have the opportunity to pursue groundbreaking studies that will provide an essential lens into understanding the silent mental health pandemic that is exploding across the world, and to discover potential treatments and solutions for addressing the short and long term implications,” says Mitzi Krockover, MD, IMHR Board President.

It is natural to feel hopeless as COVID cases rise, but every Arizonan has the chance to feel empowered by acting right now and donating to the ‘COVID-19 Mental Health Research Impact Fund’. Findings gleaned from this research will be essential in aiding global recovery from this unprecedented contagion.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit established in 2001, IMHR is uniquely positioned to facilitate a wide range of targeted and universal mental health research associated with this pandemic. Having funded more than $2 million to 50 Arizona mental health research projects, the impact of IMHR’s funding in Arizona goes beyond the initial grant dollars. Researchers funded by IMHR grants were able to leverage the seed money for more significant dollars from prestigious funding institutes such as NIMH. For every $1 of IMHR funding, an additional $10 was secured, resulting in $20 million of accompanying research dollars invested statewide.

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