Center Mission - Building Bridges between Academic Research, Practice and Policy

1. Background- Changing Landscape of Mental Health in Israel

Mental health is increasingly being recognized as a growing global concern: depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illnesses account for over 15% of the disease burden in the western world - more than that caused by all cancers. The pain and struggle of individuals suffering from mental illness can be devastating, and the consequences of mental health problems can profoundly impact family members, community networks, and the society as a whole.

Historically, the mental health services in Israel were dominated by psychiatric hospitals, poorly developed community-based services and a medicalization of mental health services. However, for several years now, due to several societal crises (wars, terrorism) alongside with the trend of deinstitutionalization processes and legislations, the mental health service policy in Israel is shifting its focus to community mental health services. This, as well as new developments in services, research, policy and advocacy organizations highlights the need to develop a body of specified inter-disciplinary knowledge, geared to facilitating the recovery and community integration of persons with mental illness. It also draws attention to the need to prepare programs fostering preparedness, resistance and recovery of at-risk populations, regarding both mental illness as well as trauma-related crises.

There is also a pressing need not only to develop, but also to disseminate knowledge. The typical discrepancy between research and practice leads to the unfortunate situation in which interventions shown by research to be effective are rarely implemented, and interventions that are experienced in practice to be helpful are rarely defined, standardized or subjected to systematic evaluation. As a result, many innovative practices remain defined as “practice wisdom” rather than usable research-based knowledge and services that research has shown to be effective are not being offered.

Based on the above, the Center for Community Mental Health Research, Practice, and Policy major aim is to build bridges between science and practice, encourage dialogue and collaboration between national and international mental health experts, and affect the policy development and legislation.


2. Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Community Mental Health Research, Practice and Policy is to generate an ongoing dialogue between: (1) academic research in the field of mental health, (2) improving and advancing practice, and (3) contributing to public decision-making policy.


Nowadays, a lack of communication between mental health research and mental health practice is often prevailing, and prevents effective interventions from being implemented while those adopted are rarely defined, being standardized or evaluated. The results of this fragmentation bar those with mental health problems from receiving effective services. Hence, the center’s three-tiered mission of integrative effort will bring a deep-seated change and facilitate the quality of life and mental health.


3. Agenda

Research Agenda: Research teams at the Center for Community Mental Health Research, Practice and Policy are spearheading projects in areas including recovery from serious mental illness; community integration and quality of life; trauma and recovery from major traumatic incidents; and populations at risk for developing mental diseases and traumatic reactions. The center’s researchers are engaged in collaborative research with institutions and scholars around the world.

Shaping Policy Agenda: The Center for Community Mental Health Research, Practice and Policy is contributing to research-informed policy decision-making by identifying and clarifying long-range policy questions; reexamining policy issues; and developing strategies for the dissemination of research findings.

Improving Practice Agenda: By helping organizations and agencies learn, adapt, implement and sustain evidence-based practices, the Center for Community Mental Health Research, Practice and Policy is noticeably improving community mental health services. The center assists practitioners in standardizing new interventions and promotes recovery-oriented service systems through education, training and program development initiatives.