Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) at the University of Utah was designated a Center of Excellence and member of the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC), a consortium of leading academic medical centers working to accelerate research, education, and improved treatment options for people with depressive and bipolar illnesses. HMHI joins 28 other institutions in the nationwide nonprofit network.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for HMHI to join a national collaborative effort to tackle depression and related mental health disorders," says Mark H. Rapaport, MD, CEO at HMHI. "Our acceptance into this leading-edge group will enable us to work more closely with other institutions that share our passion and commitment to developing better prevention and treatment options for the world's most disabling condition. By joining forces in this growing network of centers across the country, we can bring our expertise to a collaborative effort and accelerate the pace to eradicate this disease."
Founded in 2008, NNDC works to harness network members' collective knowledge and resources to expedite scientific discovery and patient care for people with mood disorders. Membership includes many of the nation's top medical institutions, and acceptance involves a rigorous application process detailing high levels of expertise in clinical delivery, research, and education.
"We are thrilled to welcome HMHI into the NNDC," said NNDC President J. Raymond DePaulo, MD. "Their approach to integrating mood disorder research, training, and treatment will add tremendous strength to our growing collaborative network. We look forward to collaborating with their faculty who have done excellent work and will bring unique opportunities to our national network. Working together with talented faculty at our other academic health centers, we can translate their insights to a nation much in need of mental health care and healing."
HMHI, together with the broader University of Utah Health system, continues to expand the integration of research with clinical care and training. This integrated approach has been in place since 2016 when University of Utah Health implemented universal depression screening in primary care and specialty clinics. The program was developed to address depression at the system level through improved screening and follow-up to improve patient outcomes.
"Mood disorders can be devastating and occur at any time in a person's life," says Brian Mickey, PhD, MD, associate professor at HMHI. "HMHI researchers are conducting numerous studies to deepen understanding of mood disorders through extensive brain imaging as well as studying the genetics behind mood disorders and suicide. We are also working to develop new treatments for severe depressive disorders and gathering data needed to develop personalized treatment breakthroughs for children, adolescents, and adults."
Most outpatient care for mood disorders in the University of Utah Health system are treated in primary care clinics, and specialty care is provided at four HMHI outpatient behavioral health clinics. HMHI's Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorder (TRMD) Clinic provides care to more than 500 patients annually. It is staffed by psychiatrists, nurses, and support staff uniquely trained to manage difficult-to-treat major depressive and bipolar mood disorders. This referral-based clinic is the only one in Utah to provide a full range of evidence-based treatment options for mood disorders. Inpatient and outpatient therapies include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and intravenous ketamine.
The TRMD clinic at HMHI has evolved from a very small service started in the early 1990s managed by one person and has grown every year. As new treatments for depression have evolved, the TRMD clinic has grown to add new treatments, clinical trials, and training opportunities. The clinic recently expanded, allowing clinicians and researchers to see twice as many patients and manage multiple treatment rooms simultaneously.
HMHI is part of the world-renowned University of Utah Health system working to transform mental health care and fulfill its mission to advance mental health knowledge, hope, and healing for all. HMHI provides a continuum of services for patients across their lifespan, is a pioneering force in understanding the complex causes of psychiatric illness, and is devoted to training the next generation of exceptional physicians, nurses, social workers, and other mental health professionals for the Mountain West.