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Garvey Institute funds 12 projects to improve mental health care for adolescents and young adults

The UW Medicine Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions is awarding over $1 million to develop and test innovative approaches to caring for adolescents and young adults with mental health and addiction problems. The Innovation Grants will go to 12 UW faculty-led teams representing 7 UW schools and colleges, 12 departments and divisions and numerous UW- and community-based centers, institutes and organizations.

The focus on adolescent and young adult mental health was driven by the steadily increasing rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in adolescents and young adults over the past decade. These troubling trends have only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded topics range from addressing suicide risk in primary care settings to providing pediatric telebehavioral health consultation to community hospital emergency departments.

“Behavioral health problems differ from other health problems that are big drivers of health-related disability because they present when we are young,” said Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA, Director of the Garvey Institute and Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “Fifty percent of people living with a serious behavioral health problem experience their first symptoms by the time they are 14 years old, and 75% experience their first symptoms by age 24. The best chance we have to make a difference is to help people when they are young, when they are first experiencing signs of mental health and addiction problems.”

Local philanthropists Lynn and Mike Garvey founded the Garvey Institute in 2019 with a $50 million donation to UW Medicine with a goal to fast-track treatments for patients with mental health, addiction and other brain health problems. The new Innovation Grants join 24 projects previously funded by the Garvey Institute to address cognitive aging, trauma, and addictions and to develop new technologies aimed at improving brain health. The robust portfolio of 36 Innovation Grants represents a significant investment in new ideas and collaborations to improve the lives of individuals and families living with mental health and brain health problems.

“Over the last two years, Garvey Institute investigators have leveraged their Innovation Grants to secure millions of dollars of additional funding to advance treatment of brain health disorders,” said Dr. Unützer. “I am very excited to see how this latest round of funding will help improve care for the millions of adolescents and young adults at risk for and affected by brain health disorders.”

Investigators will give updates on many Innovation Grants at the 2nd Annual Meeting of the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions on January 27, 2023 from 8:30am-2pm at South Lake Union. A virtual option will also be available. The event is open to the public.

Faculty and staff involved in the 36 Innovation Grants funded to date come from 9 UW schools and colleges, 23 departments and divisions, and all three UW campuses. The list of Garvey Institute partners and collaborators shows the Institute’s commitment to further brain health across the University of Washington as well as locally, regionally and nationally.

Read about all 12 projects, including Mentally Strong!