Arizona non-profit offering seed money to mental health researchers to look at solutions for pandemic anxiety

Posted at 4:43 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 20:16:26-04

PHOENIX — The coronavirus is impacting everyone one way or another.

There are coping skills that have been developed for every day mental health stresses. However, a global pandemic is something we do not know how to properly deal with.

That is why the Arizona non-profit, the Institute for Mental Health Research, has established the COVID-19 Mental Health Research Impact Fund to give seed money to researchers to start looking into crisis surrounding mental health that has been brought on by the virus.

"We see ourselves as kind of angel investors, if you will," said IMHR Board President Dr. Mitzi Krockover. "We provide the seed grants for early research and then with the hope that this research will then become eligible for larger funding."

IMHR showcased startling statistics in a press release. They wrote, "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."

"This is a unique situation that we're in," Dr. Keith Crnic. "It's been 100 years since there's been a pandemic like this... that we've faced, so most of us have had no experience with that whatsoever, right?"

Dr. Crnic is the Chief Scientific Officer for IMHR. "We can think of things," Dr. Crnic said. "We can say, 'Oh this will work,' or 'that will work,' but mostly it would be guesswork unless we have the real data to say, 'This is what we know, this is what we studied, this is what we found.'"

IMHR said they are looking to give start-up funding to Arizona investigators and places like Arizona State University, University of Arizona, The Translational Genomics Research Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, and more.

The hope is that these minds will be able to dive into more of what people are going through mentally right now and look for new coping and treatment options for the short-term and the long-term.

"Historically, mental health research has been underfunded," Dr. Krockover said. "And we know that mental health has, not only a direct effect on our perspective and our mental health and our behavior, but certainly also on our physical health."

IMHR is always looking for volunteers or donations to make unprecedented research like this possible.

To learn more about ways to get involved and their plans on funding future mental health research, click here.