Mental-health center earns advanced designation

The Center for Mental Health Services Research (CMHSR) in the George Warren Brown School of Social Work has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to become the nation’s first Advanced Center for Interventions and Services Research at a school of social work.

CMHSR will celebrate its new designation and expanded research agenda during an opening and reception from 1-2:30 p.m. Jan. 11 in the Brown Hall Lounge. Visitors can hear about the center’s current and future research from CMHSR leaders.

“We are proud and excited to have received support for this next, more ambitious phase of our research,” said Enola K. Proctor, Ph.D., center director and the Frank J. Bruno Professor of Social Work Research.

“This advanced center provides critical core support to our faculty as they test new ways to meet the mental health needs of the most vulnerable members of our society — those served by publicly funded social service agencies. Finding out how to improve the quality of their mental health care has enormous potential to ensure treatment to persons whose disorder currently goes undetected, to extend evidence-based care to those who have been poorly served and to reduce racial disparities in care.”

CMHSR opened in 1994 as the nation’s first NIMH-funded social work research development center. Its research projects represent some of the pioneering clinical epidemiological, service-systems and quality-of-care research in mental health and social services.

The center’s future work will build on its prior decade of mental-health research in the social services.

“The center’s research agenda is built around projects with Missouri’s Children’s Division and Division of Senior Services and Regulation,” said J. Curtis McMillen, Ph.D., center associate director and associate professor of social work.

“It includes a range of projects and studies designed to enhance quality improvement research methodology. With this new center, we are moving from studying how mental-health issues are handled in these sectors of care to devising and implementing strategies to improve services.

“Ultimately, we hope to develop system modifications for public social-service agencies that will result in better detection of mental disorder and access to treatment.”

In addition to Proctor and McMillen, CMHSR’s investigators include 35 Ph.D./M.D.-level researchers from around the University and across the nation.

The center has engaged the expertise of a variety of disciplines, including social work, anthropology, epidemiology, gerontology, health economics and policy, journalism, public health, library science, biostatistics, business, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, law, bioethics and sociology.

“From the perspective of the school, the launch of this new center is exciting not only for the advanced mental health services research that will be produced, but also for the outreach to social-services agencies to improve the quality of services delivered,” said Edward F. Lawlor, Ph.D., dean of the School of Social Work and the William E. Gordon Professor.

For more information about the center or the open house, call the center at 935-5687 or go online to