A national translational research strategy ideally guides and supports a country’s overall mental health strategy. Our respective overarching mission is to improve the population’s mental well-being and mental health by innovative translational research.
Our mental health strategy is based on a broad review by experts and representatives of peers and carers (incl. families) of the current and future mental health challenges in Germany. The results are summarised under “Experiences & facts about the German mental health system – today and in the future”. They show that Germany, like other countries, is facing major mental health challenges – today and in the future.
Approximately 27 % of the population is affected by a mental illness every year, and about 20% by a disorder with relevant loss of functioning.
Over the entire life span, 50 % of people fall ill until the age of 14 and 75 % at the age of 24.
It is estimated that 3-4 % of the German population suffers from a “Serious Mental Illness (SMI)”. This corresponds to about 2,5 to 3,4 million people. The proportion among all people with mental disorders is higher among adolescents (8%) than among adults (6%).
Mental health is still not well understood and this leads to shame, stigma, and discrimination.
Germany’s population is likely to grow and change, the way people live and work will change, and the environment may continue to change.
We support translational research for all aspects of mental health and wellbeing! However, policy, professional societies, healthcare experts and patient and carer associations state that the mental healthcare for people with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) is particularly fragmented, uneven, costly and not leading to significant changes in mental health outcomes.
What is Serious Mental Illness (SMI)?
Definition: SMI is defined as a mental, behavioural, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
SMI mainly includes:
SMI is mainly characterized by:
Translational research comprises “the multidirectional integration of basic research, clinical research, and health service research, with the long-term aim of improving the health of the public”. Based on this and other definitions, systematisation and prioritisation of research within the field of the priority topic is based on a translational model that we recently developed on the basis of literature review.
Fig. 1 Translation (Research) Model (according to German Research Foundation, German Science Council for Further Development of the German centres of the Health Research, National Centre for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP), Power Threat Meaning Framework, PTM).
Translational pathways (“Ts”; goals in the legend of the figure):
1. T1: Developing more effective interventions from neurobiological research and feedback.
2. T2: Testing the efficacy and effectiveness of these interventions in practice, community and healthcare system and feedback
Structures for relevant and efficient translational research:
Involvement, patient-centered care, PROMS, and PREMS:
1. Involvement of patients, carers (incl. families), and the public, patient-centered care, patient-reported experience measures (PREM) and -outcome measures (PROM).