Legislators at state and federal levels could improve the architecture of the U.S. mental health system through budgetary and regulatory decisions if they had more evidence-based research to draw from, according to a new Point of View piece published in the journal Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. Researchers from the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University contend that each of the 7,918 legislators in the United States — 535 at the federal-level and 7,383 at the state-level — has potential to affect the population-level determinants of mental health through the votes they cast and the legislation they introduce.
The researchers suggest four strategies to infuse mental health research into policy:
“The barriers to translating mental health research into legislation are formidable, but not insurmountable,” authors noted. “Politics will never be taken out of the legislative process, but scientific evidence can be more effectively infused into it.”
The Point of View article builds on a recent study conducted by the research team, published in Psychiatric Services, which found that state legislators who prioritize mental health issues are more active users of research evidence than state legislators who prioritize other health issues.
Dr. Jonathan Purtle, assistant professor of health management and policy in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, is lead author on both pieces.
Visit Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research to see the full report. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10488-016-0752-3?wt_mc=Internal.Event.1.SEM.ArticleAuthorOnlineFirst