National Institute of Mental Health

Transforming Mental Health Delivery through Behavioral Economics and Implementation Science

Principal Investigators: Rinad Beidas, Phd; David Mandell, ScD; Kevin Volpp, MD, Phd

This initiative is funded as part of the NIMH Advanced Laboratories for Accelerating the Reach and Impact of Treatments for Youth and Adults with Mental Illness (ALACRITY) to support the rapid development, testing, and refinement of novel and integrative approaches for (1) optimizing the effectiveness of treatments for and prevention of mental disorders; and (2) organizing and delivering mental health services in community settings. The ALACRITY Centers program is intended to support research that demonstrates an extraordinary level of synergy across disciplines and has a high potential for increasing the public health impact of existing and emerging mental health interventions and service delivery strategies.

The research catalyzed by the new Penn ALACRITY Center will leverage principles of behavioral economics and implementation science to improve mental health service delivery. Research activities will start with three projects, each designed to improve the delivery of mental health care by changing processes at the organizational, practitioner, or patient level:

  • Comparing ways to incentivize adherence to antidepressant medications in the first six weeks of treatment among adults newly diagnosed with depression.
  • Testing whether leveraging normative pressure and social status can increase data collection among community mental health workers treating children with autism.
  • Exploring how to design organizational strategies to incentivize therapists’ use of evidence-based practices.

In addition to specific research projects, the center will support the development of novel statistical methods and study designs to increase our knowledge of what contributes to successful implementation of evidence-based mental health treatments, and how best to leverage this knowledge to increase quality of mental health care and outcomes. The center will also fund pilot projects through the ALACRITY Pilot Program.