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  • v.27(5); 2020

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The effects of the justice system on mental health

Miguel clemente.

Department of Psychology, Universidad de a Coruña, A Coruña, Spain

Dolores Padilla-Racero

Anyone involved in legal proceedings will warn you that a long-drawn-out legal battle will drain your mental health. This study aimed to assess the psychological effects of being processed by the justice system. The sample consisted of 360 subjects, residents in Spain. Were administered a questionnaire on the experience of contact with the justice system, a temporal perspective inventory, locus of control, psychological reactance, coping strategies, health self-efficacy, and psychosomatic symptomology. Results revealed significant differences between plaintiffs and defendants, although it was also confirmed that both parties showed greater pessimism about the future. So, the former were more pessimistic about the future, used poor strategies for protecting their health, and had less empathy. In contrast, coincidentally in some variables, defendants had a more negative outlook on life, and in general more psychosomatic symptomology. The health of the group with the longest exposure to legal proceedings was the most deteriorated.

Introduction

Health and justice system.

Anyone enduring lengthy legal proceedings, in particular as a defendant or individuals at risk of losing a loved one (e.g. child custody disputes), will complain that long drawn-out legal proceedings have seriously affected their health. Notwithstanding, to our knowledge, no study has assessed the impact on health, and in particular the mental health of plaintiffs and defendants, of the justice system itself.

While our research focuses on civil family law procedures, this section conducts a general bibliographic review, referring to concepts such as victim, or aggressor and victim of abuse. However, the empirical study detailed below is strictly civil.

Although research has primarily focused on the victim’s mental health (i.e. the issue of deteriorating mental health has been studied in criminal proceedings, when an aggressor attacks a victim; in general, these are studies of the victims’ sequelae, mainly due to post-traumatic stress disorder), and the impact of the legal proceedings themselves has been overlooked. Moreover, as considered from the victim’s perspective, the term secondary victimisation has been coined and has prompted research by Gutiérrez de Piñeres-Botero, Coronel, and Andrés-Pérez ( 2009 ). Victims of an offence often become victims of the justice system and endure traumatic experiences that are product of the system itself (Pearson, 2007 ). This phenomenon has been found to affect victims, families, friends, communities, carers and aggressors (Palacio, 2001 ).

From the aggressor’s point of view, role theory as proposed by symbolic interactionism claims that individuals who commit an offence are branded delinquents or aggressors by the justice system, which significantly increases the probability of further conviction, even when no further offences are committed (for example, see Shim & Shin, 2016 ; Theimann, 2016 , etc.)

However, not all legal proceedings are confined to criminal law, and child custody disputes are a good example of the difficulty of distinguishing the victim from the aggressor. Likewise, neither should the term plaintiff be used as synonymous to victim, nor the term defendant to refer to the aggressor. This ambiguity has spurred studies such as Gardner’s ( 1985 ), parental alienation syndrome (PAS), which asserts that the plaintiff is the aggressor, a claim that lacks any scientific empirical support (see Clemente & Padilla-Racero, 2015a , 2015b ).

Secondary victimisation has been defined from the point of view of the consequences involved. Most studies refer to secondary victimisation as the distress endured by a victim of an offence due to the negative psychological, social, legal and financial impact of being processed by the justice system and the victims’ relationship with the criminal legal system (Gutiérrez de Piñeres-Botero, Coronel, & Andrés-Pérez, 2009 ). These authors add that this is a frustrating clash between the victim’s legitimate expectations and institutional reality, involving a lack of comprehension of the psychological and physical suffering caused by the criminal act, and leaving the victims desolate and insecure and generating a loss of faith in the justice system when it comes to responding to their needs. This perspective can also be found in Kreuter ( 2006 ), Landrove ( 1998 ) and Soria (1998). This concept has also been understood from another perspective as secondary victimisation, which is usually more negative than primary victimisation, and can lead to increasing the harm caused by the crime by adding more psychological or patrimonial damage (Berrill & Herek, 1992 ; Beristain, 1994 , 1999 ; García-Pablos, 1988 ; Landrove, 1998 ; Wemmers, 1996 ).

Albertin ( 2006 ) has pointed out that secondary victimisation arises from the relationship between the victim and social institutions (social services, health care workers, the justice system, mass media, etc.), which occasionally fail to comply with ethical standards for the treatment of victims (Beristain, 1999 ). The terms ‘re-victimisation’ and ‘secondary victimisation’ refer to malpractice in the psychological or medical treatment of victims, mostly by unqualified or unscrupulous professionals (Rozanski, 2013 ).

The act of resorting to the justice system entails a stressful situation for the victim: the forced reliving of the trauma endured during the incident. Moreover, the needs of victims for preserving their mental health (social support, understanding, regaining control and power over their lives, having a sympathetic listener, respect, privacy, etc.) often come into conflict with legal requirements (e.g. victims must give testimony in public, the burden of proof is on the credibility of the victim’s testimony, compliance with rules and proceedings, victims are forced to relive their traumas in order to challenge the testimony of their aggressors, etc.). Although the last issue has been examined by Campbell ( 2005 ) and Herman ( 2003 ), to our knowledge, no study has assessed the effects of the justice system on the stress levels of aggressors.

Besides suffering from severe psychological trauma, victims sustain physical injuries and incur damages and financial loss resulting from the criminal offence (Annan, 2011 ; García-Pablos, 1988 ). Moreover, the criminal offence is re-experienced and perpetuated in the victim’s mind. The feeling of powerlessness in the face of the aggressor, as well as the fear of the assault recurring, may trigger acute post-traumatic stress disorder, prolonged episodes of anxiety, depression, and so on. Psychological exhaustion may eventually lead to unfounded reactions intended to explain the traumatic event they have suffered, giving rise to feelings of guilt and self-blame for the offence. Moreover, society in general often stigmatises the victim, and far from responding with solidarity and justice, victims are often treated unsympathetically and are viewed with mistrust and suspicion (Clemente, 1992 ). Victimisation leads to social alienation and social exclusion as well as to increasing the risk of successive incidents of victimisation, making the victim of the criminal offence even more vulnerable. In the short term, victimisation modifies the victims’ habits and lifestyles, negatively affecting their everyday domestic lives, their interpersonal relationships and their working and social lives (Clemente, 1992 ). Some authors (Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001 ; Latham, 2006 ; Vardi & Weitz, 2004 ) have made an important distinction that can help reduce the impact of secondary victimisation: the interactional application of justice and of the legal procedures themselves.

The interactional application of justice refers to the formal procedures enforced by an organisation (George & Brown, 2004 ; Greenberg & Cropanzano, 2001 ; Latham, 2006 ; Vardi & Weitz, 2004 ) and consists of two types. The first is information, which refers to the use of appropriate data to explain each phase of the legal proceedings, given that when individuals receive the adequate information concerning legal proceedings, they perceive they are being treated fairly, impartially and equally. Thus, this underpins both veracity and justification. The second type, interpersonal treatment, underscores the impartial treatment received during legal proceedings, respect for how the parties should be treated, and fostering concern and sensitivity towards others – that is, empathy, good manners and respect for others.

We find this of particular importance, as uncertainty about future events is a great source of stress. It generates learned helplessness and therefore worsens users’ mental health. We believe that for justice system users to know how the criminal process works is a way to avoid these problems, especially learned helplessness (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014 ).

The South Korean experience

In South Korea a ‘Citizen Participatory Trial System’ was implemented in 2008. The system is based on ‘Committees for the Citizens’ Participation in the Judicial System’, where citizens form part of juries in trials of female victims of sexual abuse. Legal proceedings designed to prevent secondary victimisation entail installing all-female juries. Several authors have proposed a range of measures aimed at optimising the efficacy of the system in order to improve victims’ mental health. For instance, Kim and Lee ( 2015 ) proposed three measures to improve the system, with the third one referring to strategies for preventing anxiety in victims whose identity has been disclosed in court and the stressful situation of reliving their trauma during the trial. In practice, the aim was to design a system akin to plea-bargaining. One of the programmes designed to prevent secondary victimisation was the ‘Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’ or SANE (Maier, 2012 ). The work of Maier ( 2012 ) reflects the opinions of 39 nurses participating in that programme. This work is of great importance despite the small number of professionals interviewed (39 nurses), as it refers to the perception of the criminal jurisdiction of the justice system and of the civil jurisdiction of women who were allegedly sexually abused by the health system. These professionals were asked to what extent female victims of alleged sexual abuse feel intimidated when the whole process of care for them begins in hospitals, with the notification to the justice system to investigate the possible crime. The data collected showed how, according to the nurses, what bothered them the most was the criminal investigation carried out by the police and the courts of criminal jurisdiction, mainly because the possible veracity of the abuse was challenged. The second issue that made them most uncomfortable was the abuse verification system itself, from a health viewpoint, as it reminded them of the aggression. And finally, they were uncomfortable about the impact of the events that occurred concerning the need to change their civil status, as most of them were married, and the traumatic event led them to file for divorce, opening civil judicial proceedings.

The Korean system based on the recommendations of several authors has applied several improvements such as victim protection, a policy that has often been implemented without any empirical data to justify the practice (Lee, 2014 ).

The justice system as a generator of health problems and a form of institutional harassment

In every society, there are disadvantaged groups where, on the one hand, society is prioritised, and, on the other hand, the system of administration of justice is prioritised. Under this assumption the work of Athwal and Burnett ( 2014 ) applied to racism was carried out. These authors report how members of certain groups, mainly related to the submerged economy, are ‘disappearing’ within the justice system because, firstly, as has just been established, there is low-level harassment of society in general, but also, secondly, of the justice system itself, which either does not act or acts in a way that could be called low level, leaving most crimes unpunished (files are lost, prosecutors do not classify them, etc.).

It is important to identify how the justice system stigmatises everyone, the aggressors and the victims. This is demonstrated in the work of Stotzer ( 2014 ), which analyses 33 studies that focus on the treatment of the justice system toward its users. These works highlight how lawbreakers suffer harassment, unlawful arrest, assault and in general a great lack of protection by the system, with the agents of such attacks being themselves members of the justice system. But the opposite is also true: victims are also harassed and discriminated by the system. The conclusion is clear: the police and justice system, indirectly and in a ‘low-level’ form, assault both aggressors and the victims of abuse.

On the other hand, the way the justice system treats those who come there as victims affects their mental health. This is shown, for example, in two investigations. Bell, Street, and Stafford ( 2014 ), working with 1562 reservists from the United States military who were sexually abused by other members of their organisation, show how these people’s mental health, especially their post-traumatic stress level, improved when they were adequately treated by the justice system, and their statements were taken appropriately and respectfully; and, on the contrary, the mental health of those who were treated disrespectfully by the justice system worsened. A similar work was performed by Smith ( 2012 ), but referring to the prison system, with similar results. Therefore, in general, we can say that when the victims of crime and the offenders are treated appropriately by the justice system, their mental health improves. But unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

Perhaps one of the possible explanations of this discrimination, from a legal point of view, can be found in the concept of Silbey ( 2005 ) of legal consciousness, which tries to join three elements: consciousness, ideology and hegemony. In general, this theory draws a clear distinction between the theoretical concept of the law and the way it acts when put into practice. It could be argued that law enforcement is often iatrogenic; that is, while at the general level, it is intended to defend the victims, in its individual application, it frequently harms the victims. Silbey wonders how it is possible for people to allow the existence of a legal system that, despite its promises of equal treatment, systematically reproduces inequality.

Another phenomenon that highlights this harassment of the citizen by the legal system is that of the ‘perverse rule’, created by Fernández-Dols ( 1993 ), who defined it as an explicit and unfulfillable rule. It is a rule that can only be fulfilled in ideal or exceptional terms (see also Oceja & Fernández-Dols, 1992 ). Thus, the police can sanction whoever breaks a rule because they have broken the law, despite the fact that all of society fails to follow it, because they do not even know about its existence. For example, it is very easy to punish a restaurant or a café, as it will always violate some rules; so, if the police want to impose a punishment on an establishment, they can always do so. In everyday life, it is possible to detect perverse rules in many contexts. Perverse rules are often imposed on all groups of a social subsystem or at least on the group without authority, using coercion by a hierarchically superior social system.

Although most studies have employed a qualitative methodology, a few empirical studies have been undertaken (Aranda-López, Montes-Berges, Castillo-Mayén, & Higueras, 2014 ; Patterson, 2011 ). With the qualitative methodology, studies of gender violence found that women who perceived the justice system negatively also tended to have intense feelings of secondary victimisation caused by the system. In comparison, women who relied less on the criminal justice system and the police to prevent further assault expressed more satisfaction with the justice system. In addition, there was a homeostatic phenomenon whereby women with more family support expressed more satisfaction with the police system.

In line with the findings of the present study, Calton and Cattaneo ( 2014 ) concluded that legal proceedings perceived as fair improved the victims’ mental health, and the victims stated they would use the justice system again if they were involved in another offence. Two variables were significantly modified by the perception of being treated fairly in legal proceedings: quality of life increased, and depression decreased. It has been shown that these studies were not generalisable to victims of sexual offences (Laxminarayan, 2012 ).

As most studies have focused almost exclusively on the victim, and particularly on secondary victimisation, this study aimed to assess the psychological effects on both plaintiffs and defendants of being processed by the justice system. We wanted to address this case because both parties have been plaintiffs and defendants at some time. What we have done is to include the interviewees in one category or another according to their qualification after the first lawsuit filed at the judicial level. And, as already stated, in almost all cases, the first lawsuit was civil; then, the criminal jurisdiction had to act, and then the case returned to the civil jurisdiction. In this study health was characterised in terms of plaintiff or defendant. Moreover, the litigants’ psychosocial health was compared to that of non-litigants to determine differences. It was hypothesised that both plaintiff and defendant would exhibit psychosocial health problems, and that the deterioration in health would be worse in the defendants. A further conjecture was that the health of litigants (subjects actually involved in legal proceedings) would be worse than the health of non-litigants.

We would like to express our conviction that scientific procedures must be used in order to determine whether there is a deterioration of mental health. An example of this can be found in the ‘Legal Harassment Scale’ (LHS) of Clemente, Padilla-Racero, Espinosa, Reig-Botella, and Gandoy-Crego ( 2019 ), ideal for detecting how the justice system can impair people’s psychological health.

Participants

The sample consisted of 360 participants; 53% women and 47% men; mean age 36 years (age range= 18–81 years). A total of 52.2% of participants stated they had been involved in legal proceedings as plaintiffs, and 32.8% as defendants (both questions were asked separately, the exclusion criterion being participants who were simultaneously involved in legal proceedings both as plaintiffs and as defendants). The mean number of trials was 0.87 (minimum 0, and maximum 7). Most participants had been involved in proceedings concerning changes in the non-custodial parent’s visitation regime, to a fairly lesser extent in changes in guardianship and to a small extent in child sexual abuse proceedings involving requests for changes of guardianship and visitation regimes. All participants resided in the autonomous community of Galicia (north-western Spain). The data were gathered by interviewers, who requested the collaboration of, and obtained informed consent from, individuals being processed by the law courts. Thus, the sample was incidental, as it would have been unfeasible and complicated to obtain a random one. All participants were informed of the aims of the study. Data were gathered from October to December 2017.

Instruments

A questionnaire was designed, consisting of the following series of tests:

  • Sociodemographic data, and data on the experience of contact with the justice system.
  • Zimbardo’s Time Perspective Inventory (ZTPI): a multidimensional measure of time orientation, which allows individuals to fix their own past, present and future. It can be classified as a personality test consisting of 56 items rated on a 5-point Likert-type response format. Both the validity and reliability indices were high. The Spanish version adapted by Díaz-Morales ( 2006 ) was used to determine the following factors: negative past, hedonist present, future, positive past and fatalist present. These factors correspond with those proposed by Zimbardo and Boyd ( 1999 ). A negative past expresses a pessimistic, negative and unfavourable view of the past; a hedonist present implies an attitude towards time and life based on pleasure – for example, the pleasure of performing high-risk or high-adrenaline sports and exciting experiences; the future is linked to responsibility, achievement oriented, meeting deadlines and concern for the consequences of different types of behaviour; a positive past implies nostalgia and enthusiasm for the past; and the fatalist present reveals a desperate and defenceless attitude, a negative attitude towards the future and life in general (a lack of orientation in time).
  • Levenson’s ( 1973 ) I–E Locus of Control Scale. This scale is a measure of locus of control, which was initially designed by Rotter ( 1966 ) and was adapted and validated in Spanish by Perez-García ( 1984 ). The Spanish version of Romero-García and Pérez ( 1985 ) was used in this study. This scale measures subjects’ internality (I) and externality (E) with two factors: internal and external. Moreover, externality was measured in terms of either ‘other powerful people’ or chance. The scale consists of 24 items scored on a 6-point Likert-type response format. Internality refers to individual personal beliefs about one’s own skills, characteristics, attitude and behaviour in determining success or failure in life – that is, being in control of one’s destiny. In comparison, externality attributes success or failure in life to outside forces (the belief that powerful people control one’s life), whereas chance externality is the belief that luck, fate or divine destiny determine one’s life. Global externality encompasses both types of externality. Studies on the reliability and validity of the scale have obtained positive results (Hong & Ostini, 1989 ; Hong & Page, 1989 ; Pérez-García, Sanjuán, Bermúdez, & Sánchez-Elvira, 2002 ).
  • The Psychological Reactance Scale (PRS) of Hong and Page ( 1989 ). This concept was supported by Brehm’s ( 1966 ) claim that perceived threats to freedom trigger a motivational impulse in people, which has been referred to as psychological reactance. Individuals who perceive their freedom is threatened or who fear that loved others may be lost believe that by acting unlawfully they are restoring their freedom. Wortman and Brehm ( 1975 ) described four components of reactance: expected freedom, implied threat/the force of threat, importance of freedom and implications for others’ rights. Hong and Page’s scale consists of two components: affective and cognitive, with eight and six items, respectively. In this study, the Spanish version of this scale, adapted by Pérez-García et al. ( 2002 ), was used.
  • Moos’ Coping Strategies Scale (CSS). Moos views stress as a manifestation of the imbalance between external and internal demands as perceived by the individual, and the availability of resources for coping (Frydenberg, 1997 ; Lazarus, 1991 ). Moos’ Coping Responses Inventory (CRI) was adapted for adolescents: the CRI–Youth (CRI–Y; Moos, 1993 , 1995 ). In the present study, the Spanish version of the CRI–Y, adapted by Ongarato, De la Iglesia, Stover, and Fernandez-Liporace ( 2009 ), was used. The original version of the questionnaire was composed of 48 items, grouped into eight dimensions. The version used in this study consisted of four scales: Coping for Cognitive Approximation, Coping for Behavioural Approximation, Coping for Cognitive Avoidance and Coping for Behavioural Avoidance. The psychometric properties of this scale have been corroborated (Rial-Boubeta, De La Iglesia, Ongarato & Fernández-Liporace, 2011 ).
  • The Scale of Self-efficacy on Health (SEH). The SEH consists of 10 items scored on a 4-point Likert-type response format, and all the options were drafted by the authors of this paper. The scale was based on the self-efficacy tests of Baessler and Schwarzer ( 1996 ), and Sanjuán, Pérez-García, and Bermúdez-Moreno ( 2000 ), but only items on health issues were included.
  • Derogatis’ Symptom Checklist–90–Revised (SCL–90–R). The SCL–90–R is composed of 90 questions measuring several dimensions: Somatisation, Obsessive-Compulsive, Interpersonal Sensitivity, Depression, Anxiety, Hostility, Phobic Anxiety, Paranoid Ideation and Psychoticism. The global severity index (GSI) of psycho-somatisation were calculated using this checklist. The psychometrically tested (see Derogatis & Cleary, 1977a , 1977b ; Derogatis, Rickels, & Rock, 1976 ), adapted Spanish version was used in this study (Derogatis, 2002 ).

After designing the questionnaire, a team of interviewers was responsible for collecting data from plaintiffs and defendants at the law courts of the four provinces of the autonomous community of Galicia (NW Spain). Once the data had been gathered, an Excel data matrix was created, prior to exporting it to the IBM SPSS-22 statistical package. Statistical t tests were performed to compare independent samples in the following groups:

  • Subjects who had previously been in legal proceedings as defendants (defendants) versus subjects who had never been in legal proceedings as defendants (non-defendants).
  • Subjects who had previously been in legal proceedings as plaintiffs (plaintiffs) versus subjects who had never been in legal proceedings as plaintiffs (non-plaintiffs).
  • Subjects who were in legal proceedings (litigants) versus subjects who were not in legal proceedings (non-litigants).

No reliability or validity tests on the instruments employed in this study were undertaken, given that the psychometric properties have been confirmed to be satisfactory by the empirical data.

Initially, a statistical t  test was performed to compare defendants versus non-defendants. As shown in Table 1 , significant results (a minimum bilateral confidence score of 95% – that is, p ≤ .05) were found in a large number of variables: being negative (the defendants’ scores were lower than the non-defendants’ scores), hedonist present (defendants did not enjoy the present time); future (defendants were more pessimistic about the future); fatalist present (defendants obtained lower scores in perceiving the present as a problem); global time perspective (defendants were more negative); external control by other powerful people (defendants rejected the belief that what happens to them depends on powerful others); global external control (defendants were globally less external than non-defendants); affective and cognitive reactance (defendants did not like to resort to behaviours that led to problems); self-efficacy in health (defendants were not efficacious at protecting their own health); interpersonal sensitivity (defendants lacked mutual understanding); depression (defendants were less depressed); anxiety (defendants had less anxiety); hostility (defendants had less hostility); phobic anxiety (defendants had less phobic anxiety); paranoid ideation (defendants had less paranoid ideation); psychoticism (defendants scored lower); and GSI global psychosomatic indices (defendants had lower global psychosomatic indices). Moreover, defendants exhibited the highest global reactance scores. In short, globally, defendants were pessimistic about the future, used poor strategies for protecting their own health and exhibited less empathy and interpersonal sensitivity.

T test comparison of the means of defendants versus those of non-defendants.

Note: GSI = global severity index of the Symptom Checklist–90–Revised (SCL–90–R).

As for the comparison between plaintiffs versus non-plaintiffs, the results in Table 2 show that plaintiffs perceived the future more negatively and the past positively, and obtained higher scores in fatalist present, external control by chance, both global affective and cognitive reactance and psychoticism. Thus, plaintiffs were globally found to have a more negative outlook on life, and presented more psychosomatic symptomology.

T test comparison of the means of plaintiffs versus those of non-plaintiffs.

Note: GSI = global severity index of the Symptom Checklist–90–Revised (SCL–90–R).

As shown in Table 3 , the comparison between subjects who at the time of data collection were not involved in legal proceedings (non-litigants) versus subjects who were involved in legal proceedings (litigants) revealed that the litigants scored lower on hedonist present and on behavioural coping. Thus, the health of litigants deteriorated more than the health of non-litigants, but this was observed in only a few variables.

T test comparison of the means of litigants versus those of non-litigants.

Discussion and conclusion

The results obtained are summarised in Table 4 . Variables that were non-significant in any of the analyses were eliminated, and a negative sign was added if the defendant, plaintiff or litigant groups obtained lower scores than the non-defendant, non-plaintiff or non-litigant groups, respectively. Conversely, if the non-defendant, non-plaintiff and non-litigant groups obtained lower scores, a positive sign was added.

Summary of results.

Note: GSI = global severity index of the Symptom Checklist–90–Revised (SCL–90–R). Negative sign = defendant, plaintiff or litigant groups obtained lower scores than non-defendant, non-plaintiff or non-litigant groups, respectively; positive sign = non-defendant, non-plaintiff or non-litigant groups obtained lower scores than defendant, plaintiff or litigant groups, respectively.

Significant differences were found between defendants and non-defendants. Defendants were more pessimistic about the future, used poor strategies for protecting their own health and showed less empathy. Likewise, plaintiffs also had health problems: they had a more negative outlook on life, and, on the whole, they presented more psychosomatic symptomology. Thus, both defendants and plaintiffs presented health problems. Moreover, the comparison between litigants and non-litigants showed that health was more deteriorated in the litigants, but only in a few specific variables (hedonist present and behavioural coping) This underscores that: (a) being processed by the justice system leads to both plaintiffs’ and defendants’ deteriorated mental health; and (b) the longer the exposure to the justice system (according to the number of trials), the greater the deterioration of health. The defendants presented greater fluctuations in psychosocial health, and the plaintiffs showed fewer effects. In short, the results corroborated the hypothesis that being processed by the justice system resulted in deterioration of the mental health of both plaintiffs and defendants.

The results of this study have corroborated the findings of Gutiérrez de Piñeres-Botero et al. ( 2009 ), Palacio ( 2001 ), and Pearson ( 2007 ), as well as the studies of Shim and Shin ( 2016 ) and Theimann ( 2016 ), who analysed victims (i.e. the plaintiff) separately from the aggressor (i.e. the defendant). In short, the justice system affected the mental health of plaintiffs and defendants.

Harassment has become a type of violence especially studied in psychology. However, there are two types of harassment in the legal system that have barely been investigated: the use of the legal and justice system to harass a person, and the treatment that the system employs towards its users. Both types of harassment can be referred to as ‘legal harassment’ and contribute to victimising people who either are attacked by others or, because of going to the justice system, face institutional abuse. This article deals with both possibilities and exemplifies how this type of harassment occurs very particularly in family law.

From the point of view of the justice system, few investigations have addressed this issue, and, yet, the user of the justice system is often victimised by the system itself, either as a plaintiff or as a defendant, although common sense tells us that the effect of harassment should be more manifest in the defendant. Unfortunately, there are hardly any works on this, so the present investigation is intended to remedy this issue.

One of the main limitations of this study was the small and incidental sample. This field of research covers very intimate and sensitive issues, and individuals are reluctant to collaborate providing data. Moreover, a third group of plaintiffs and defendants of the justice system who were simultaneously plaintiffs and defendants, a common scenario in family law, was not analysed. Thus, further research is required to assess the effects of legal proceedings on the mental health of people involved in the justice system who are simultaneously plaintiffs and defendants.

Acknowledgements

All authors have contributed equally to the development of this research and to the elaboration of the manuscript. All authors agree with the final version of this manuscript and assume responsibility for it.

This research was not pre-registered. The data used in the research are available and can be obtained by emailing the corresponding author. The materials used in the research are available and can be obtained by emailing the corresponding author.

Ethical standards

Declaration of conflicts of interest.

Miguel Clemente has declared no conflicts of interest

Dolores Padilla-Racero has declared no conflicts of interest

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the present study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional Ethic Committee of the Universidade da Coruna (Spain) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study

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Hot Topics: Mental Health Issues: Law and Legislation

  • Law and Legislation
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Book Catalog at SAU Library

  • Library Central This link opens in a new window Our SAU book catalog: Also try the partner Libraries tab. SAU users can interlibrary loan those titles. See box with ILL directions.
  • Mental health laws United States
  • People with mental disabilities and crime United States
  • Mental disability law Search in these journals for pertinent articles. SAU users only. Sign in to Library Central for full access.

Books in the SAU Collection

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Selected Web sites

  • Mental Health law: an overview "Mental health and the law interact in numerous ways. The term "competence" signifies a legal conclusion that an individual is capable of entering into a binding contract, transferring assets, or participating in a legal proceeding. The provision of mental health services is regulated and, to some extent, publicly supported. Legal standards surround the process by which those who are mentally ill can be forced, against their will, to receive treatment. Statutes for involuntary commitment whether denominated civil or criminal are subject to the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. This is because involuntary commitment severely infringes on a person's right to be free from governmental restraint and the right to not be confined unnecessarily. Courts have held that such statutes must bear some reasonable relation to the purpose for which the individual is committed. Finally and most conspicuously, the criminal justice system has, of necessity, to address issues of responsibility, appropriateness of trial and treatment in the light of mental health considerations. States dictate how and when the insanity defense may be invoked in state court while the federal government does so for the federal court system. In 1984, the Insanity Defense Reform Act (18 U.S.C. § 17) was passed. Generally, it placed the burden of proving insanity on the defendant and it cut on the use of mental illness as a defense. Today, insanity is rarely invoked and of those, only a quarter succeed." more... less... From Cornell University
  • Indicators Of Mental Health Problems Reported By Prisoners And Jail Inmates, 2011-2012 Jennifer Bronson, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Marcus Berzofsky, Dr. P.H., RTI International June 22, 2017 "Presents prevalence estimates of mental health indicators among state and federal prisoners and jail inmates by different time periods, demographics, criminal justice history, most serious offense, mental health treatment received while incarcerated, and rule violations. Indicators were defined as serious psychological distress (SPD) in the 30 days prior to the interview or having a history of a mental health problem. Data are from BJS's 2011-2012 National Inmate Survey. Comparisons to the general population are based on data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012" more... less... from the U.S> Department of Justice
  • Mental Health: Justice Center: Council of State Governments "The Council of State Governments Justice Center provides practical, nonpartisan, research-driven strategies and tools to increase public safety and strengthen communities."
  • Emerging Issues in Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System "Learn about specific issues that further complicate the lives of people with behavioral health conditions in U.S. criminal and juvenile justice systems." more... less... "The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities."

Legal Journals database

  • Nexis Uni This link opens in a new window This interdisciplinary database includes over 17,000 full-text news sources. Also includes a wealth of company/financial information and a variety of legal cases. Can be tricky to search, but useful under the right circumstances.

A note to users concerning database searching

If you are  not  an St. Ambrose University use r , your local public library may have access to various databases that are subscription based. Call and ask your public library for details.

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Health Law Research

Secondary sources, primary sources, practice materials, organizations, interdisciplinary materials, getting help.

This guide provides an overview of health law research strategies. It will highlight some of the key secondary and primary resources in these areas. It will also provide current awareness sources. To learn more about performing legal research generally, please visit:

  • Legal Research Strategy by AJ Blechner Last Updated Sep 21, 2023 5182 views this year

Health law has become a distinct field in its own right. However, researchers may also wish to explore:  Bioethics, Health Care Policy & Reform, Medical Device Law & Industry, Medical Malpractice, Medicare/Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Law & Industry, and Public Health. For a brief summary of health law please visit:

  • Health Law: An Overview Cornell Legal Information Institute

Using Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are a great place to begin your research.  To learn more about secondary sources and how to use them, visit the following guide:

  • Secondary Sources: ALRs, Encyclopedias, Law Reviews, Restatements, & Treatises by Catherine Biondo Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 3435 views this year

Encyclopedias & American Law Reports

Legal encyclopedias contain brief, broad summaries of legal topics. They provide introductions to legal topics and explain relevant terms of art. State encyclopedias can also be found on Westlaw and Lexis.

  • American Jurisprudence 2d - Health - Westlaw
  • American Jurisprudence 2d - Health - Lexis
  • Corpus Juris Secundum - Health and Environment - Westlaw
  • Lawyers' Medical Cyclopedia of Personal Injuries and Allied Specialties

The American Law Reports contains in-depth articles on narrow topics of the law.  Use the following Indices to access the ALR.  Note: Lexis also has some ALR materials but Westlaw's are more complete.

  • Health Index Topic - ALR - Westlaw
  • Medical Care Index Topic - ALR - Westlaw

Health Law Treatises

There are many health law treatises within our collection.  Users can search in Hollis  for the most up-to-date legal treatises.

  • Hollis, the Harvard Library Catalog

Explore books by topic: Select Option Below Show All General Administration Bioethics & Biotechnology Mental Health Pandemic Response Policy Public Health

Books - General

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Books - Mental Health

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Books - Policy

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Books - Public Health

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Legal and Medical Journals

In addition to Hollis, mentioned above, many databases can be used for secondary source research:

  • HeinOnline Health and Medicine
  • Lexis Healthcare Law Journals
  • Westlaw Health Law Journals

In addition to traditional law reviews and journals many advocacy organizations also publish:

  • American Health Law Association Seminar Papers For papers prior to 2009 visit the American Health Law Association Seminar Papers - Archive
  • American Journal of Law & Medicine by the American Society of Law and Medicine
  • Food and Drug Law Journal by the Food and Drug Law Institute
  • Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare and Ethics by Internet Scientific Publications
  • Issues in Law & Medicine by the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent & Disabled
  • Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics by the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics
  • Journal of Legal Medicine by the American College of Legal Medicine

Using Primary Sources

Primary authority is  "authority that issues directly from a law-making body." Authority , Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).  To learn more about primary sources and how to use them visit:

  • Primary Sources - Legal Research Strategy Guide
  • Health Law Statutes - Westlaw
  • Healthcare Law Statutes - Lexis
  • State Health Statutes - LII Table of state codes on health law, for general use only, not citation.

Statutes & Legislation

50 State Surveys are tools used to compare the law across multiple states.  To learn more about using and accessing 50 State Surveys see our guide on:

  • Comparing State Law - Prepare to Practice Guide

Comparing State Law

For 50 State Surveys on Health Law visit:

  • 50 State Surveys - Health - Westlaw
  • 50 State Surveys - COVID19 - Westlaw
  • 50 State Surveys Healthcare, Public Health, & Welfare Law - Lexis
  • State by State Guide to Managed Care Law

Legislative History

  • Federal & State Legislative History by Mindy Kent Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 277 views this year

This may help when considering the impact of Federal and State statutes related to health. Consider searching for earlier versions of the law, supporting testimony, and additional documentation. If available, consider consulting published legislative history.

  • A Legislative history of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its Amendments.
  • Legislative History of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
  • Legislative History of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003
  • Legislative History of the Social Security Amendments of 1965
  • Legislative History of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • ProQuest Regulatory Insight Find regulations that have been promulgated as a result of the ACA.

If there is no existing legislative history, researchers may need to consult congressional materials directly.

Regulatory & Administrative Law

Regulations comprise a substantial portion of primary sources in health law research. Statutes may enable change in health policy (such as the Affordable Care Act) and create specific health programs (such as Medicare and Medicaid). Yet, the way those policies and programs are administered relies primarily on regulation.

If you are unfamiliar with how to conduct regulatory research, please visit:

  • Administrative Law Research by AJ Blechner Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 403 views this year

The regulatory process can be complex, especially in the field of health care. Multiple agencies can be involved in promulgating regulations, further complicating the process. This visual overview can be helpful:

mental health and law research paper topics

It may be easiest to start with a regulation by number or agency by name. Secondary sources such as books, scholarly articles, or advocacy communications can help you get started.

Government agencies websites provide information about proposed regulations and track them through the regulatory process.

  • Federalregister.gov Contains federal agency documents, including proposed rules, final rules, public notices, and Presidential actions. This unofficial format provides the same material printed in the official Federal Register. It also contains related material from the Code of Federal Regulations and the US Code.
  • Regulations.gov Allows users to search regulatory materials, submit comments, and sign up for email alerts. Some agencies require that comments be submitted through their own individual platforms. However, regulations.gov serves as a clearinghouse for the majority of publicly available public comment material.
  • Reginfo.gov Produced by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the General Services Administration (GSA). OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviews Federal regulations and information collections. The site provides information about regulations under development to enable public participation.

Administrative Materials are also accessible on both Westlaw and Lexis:

  • Health Law Regulations - Westlaw
  • Health Law Administrative Decisions & Guidance - Westlaw
  • Healthcare Law Administrative Codes & Regulations - Lexis
  • Healthcare Law Administrative Materials - Lexis

Agency websites also contain regulations and resources that can aid in conducting research:

  • Health and Human Services Regulations
  • Food & Drug Administration Regulations
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Regulations
  • Federal & State Health Law Cases - Westlaw
  • Federal & State Health Law Cases - Lexis

Some agencies can also decide cases related to particular regulations. These agency decisions may not be included in general case law databases. Decisions can often be accessed through agency websites:

  • HHS Compliance - Advisory Opinions
  • CMS Medicare Advantage/Prescription Drug Plan Decisions
  • HHS Departmental Appeals Board Decisions
  • HHS Enforcement Actions
  • FDA Enforcement Reports
  • FDA Warning Letters

Using Practice Materials

Practitioners often write the most helpful resources in the field of health law. Although they have similarities to treatises, they are directed at lawyers in practice. They may contain checklists and forms not available in a traditional treatise.

Practice Centers

  • Healthcare Practice Center - Vitallaw
  • Health Practice Center - Bloomberg Law
  • Health Law Practice Center - Westlaw
  • Medical Litigation Practice Center - Westlaw
  • Healthcare Law Practice Center - Lexis

Practitioner Materials

Handbooks and guides are helpful when working on health law issues as a new practitioner.

  • Health Law Handbook
  • Health Care Compliance Guide - Bloomberg
  • Health Law Practice Guide
  • Health Care Law: A Practical Guide

Current Awareness Sources

Advocacy resources.

  • POLITICO Pro PoliticoPro provides subject-based issue and policy tracking tools in multiple areas including Health Care. It prepares issue pages for major policy areas. Features include: news, calendar function, whiteboard, charts, graphs, and glossaries, all in well-organized practice centers. PoliticoPro content relies on policy experts in the field, writing in real time. The site also stores all primary source documents in a "document drawer" for easy access.
  • Legistorm The In the News section curates news from Capitol Hill. StormFeed provides updates from press releases, twitter accounts from legislators, and relevant trending hashtags. For regular alerts request a personal account, contact [email protected].
  • Vitallaw The Health Care library includes several Daily Documents and Newsletters. Researchers can also find CMS manuals and guidance, and State Health Care information.

News Sources

Keeping up-to-date with new developments in the field of health law will enhance research projects. Recent headlines in the field may also inspire researchers still looking for a paper topic. Use these links to find news sources related to health law:

  • Kaiser Health News A nonprofit news service committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics (not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente).
  • Health Affairs A leading peer-reviewed journal of health policy thought and research. Aims to offer a nonpartisan forum to promote analysis and discussion.
  • Medpac An independent congressional agency advising the U.S. Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program.
  • Health Law & Business News - Bloomberg
  • Health Law Daily - Westlaw Daily updates on current health law developments including the areas of food safety and Medicaid.

Legal Blogs have become an increasingly rich source of information and legal news.  Below are two indices to health law blogs:

  • ABA Journal Health Law Blogs Index
  • Justia Healthcare Law Blogs

Non Profits and NGOs

  • National Agencies and Organizations from Pace Health Law Research Guide

The following organizations may be particularly useful to researchers:

  • Center for Medicare Advocacy Nonprofit, nonpartisan law organization providing education, advocacy, and legal assistance to help people obtain Medicare. In addition to the newsroom, you can sign up for alerts via email.
  • Families USA A consumer advocacy group that focuses on Health Care, with a robust newsroom. You can access insights, reports, raw data, and more under their resources tab.

Kaiser Family Foundation

  • Kaiser Family Foundation A non-profit organization focusing on national health issues. They provide policy analysis, journalism, and communication for the general public.

Kaiser Health News includes a morning briefing and updates via email or RSS feed:

Community Catalyst

  • Community Catalyst Non-profit dedicated to consumer health advocacy, working in 40 states across the country.
  • Dual Agenda Newsletter Includes state highlights on health care reform. Their  ACA Implementation Fund  partners with state-based advocacy groups on issues related to the implementation of health care reform. They focus on the state level, and explore the impact of potential repeal.
  • Health Policy Hub Blog Allows for email subscription.

The latest posts from their feed are included below:

Health & Medical Field Resources

Health law is an interdisciplinary area. You may benefit from accessing health and biomedical resources.  

For unfamiliar terms and acronyms consult the following:

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There are several health and medical databases that may be helpful in your research:

  • Harvard Medicine & Public Health Databases
  • PubMed For how to use please visit the Pubmed Research Guide
  • Web of Science

Additional Resources

Health law also touches on many different research areas.  These additional research guides contain important content related to health law:

  • Disability Law by AJ Blechner Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 98 views this year
  • Elder Law by AJ Blechner Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 119 views this year
  • Health Policy by James Adams Last Updated May 25, 2023 100 views this year
  • Law and Public Policy by Mindy Kent Last Updated Sep 12, 2023 278 views this year
  • Research Guide on International Health Law GlobaLex Guide from Professor Chenglin Liu, St. Mary's University School of Law

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You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included and it is shared in the same manner. 

  • Last Updated: Sep 12, 2023 10:46 AM
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Health Law Research Guide: Mental Health/Psychiatry

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  • Current Awareness
  • United States v. Comstock 560 U.S. ___ (2010) more... less... Regarding 18 U.S.C. § 4248 (2006), which allows the federal government to place in indefinite civil commitment "sexually dangerous" persons.
  • Clark v. Arizona 548 U.S. 735 (2006)
  • Sell v. U.S. 539 U.S. 166 (2003) more... less... "The Constitution permits the Government involuntarily to administer antipsychotic drugs to render a mentally ill defendant competent to stand trial on serious criminal charges if the treatment is medically appropriate, is substantially unlikely to have side effects that may undermine the trial’s fairness, and, taking account of less intrusive alternatives, is necessary significantly to further important governmental trial-related interests."
  • Kansas v. Crane 534 U.S. 407 (2002)
  • Olmstead v. L.C. 527 U.S. 581 (1999)
  • Kansas v. Hendricks 521 U.S. 346 (1997)
  • Shannon v. United States 512 U.S. 573 (1994)
  • Heller v. Doe 509 U.S. 312 (1993)
  • Ford v. Wainwright 477 U.S. 399 (1986)
  • City of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc. 473 U.S. 432 (1985)
  • Ake v. Oklahoma 470 U.S. 68 (1985)
  • Parham v. J.R. 442 U.S. 584 (1979)
  • Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson 598 F. Supp. 2d 289 (E.D.N.Y. 2009)
  • Matter of Miguel M. N.Y. Court of Appeals, May 10, 2011

Sources of Mental Health Laws and Regulations

  • Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
  • Overview of Disability Law Cornell LII
  • Overview of Mental Health Law Cornell LII.
  • Overview of the Insanity Defense and Diminished Capacity, Cornell's Legal Information Institute
  • Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness 42 U.S.C. ch. 114
  • Psychology Laws & Licensing Boards In Canada & the United States
  • Sex Offenders Requiring Civil Commitment or Supervision (NY) NY Mental Hygiene Law Article 10
  • State Insanity Defense Laws
  • State Laws Mandating or Regulating Mental Health Benefits National Conference of State Legislatures

Education of the Handicapped: Laws, Legislative Histories and Administrative Documents KF4210 .A25 1982

Human Experimentation: Federal Laws, Legislative Histories, Regulations and Related Documents KF3827.M38 R44  1985

Federal Laws of the Mentally Handicapped: Laws, Legislative Histories and Administrative Documents KF480 .A3 U5

  • The Mental Health Parity Act: A Legislative History CRS Report for Congress (2007)
  • MentalHealth.gov
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Office of the NYS Attorney Genera: Sex Offender Management Bureau
  • Psychiatry & Law Updates
  • Psychiatric News (APA)

Blogs and Discussion Groups

  • Treatment Advocacy Center Blog
  • The Wrightslaw Way to Special Education Law and Advocacy
  • Neuroethics & Law Blog

Reports and Articles

  • “Actuarial Justice” - Representing Sex Offenders Facing Lifetime Civil Confinement Al O’Connor, New York State Defenders Association (2007)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The Definition of Disability Congressional Research Service report, March 2006.
  • Annual Report on the Implementation of Mental Hygiene Law Article 10: New York’s Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act of 2007 New York State Office of Mental Health (2013)
  • Bad Science Makes Bad Law: How Deference Afforded to Psychiatry Undermines Civil Liberties Samantha Godwin. Georgetown University Law Center; University College London, working paper (2011)
  • Building Bridges: An Act to Reduce Recidivism by Improving Access to Benefits for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities upon Release from Incarceration Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • Civil Commitment of Sexually Dangerous Persons: Statutory Interpretation of State's SDP Law 36 Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 138 (2008).
  • The Competing Faces of Mental Health Law: Recovery and Access versus the Expanding Use of Preventive Confinement John Petrila & Corine De Ruiter, 3 Amsterdam Law Forum (2011)
  • Deportation by Default: Mental Disability, Unfair Hearings, and Indefinite Detention in the US Immigration System (2010) Human Rights Watch and ACLU, July 2010
  • A Corrections Quandary: Mental Illness and Prison Rules Jamie Fellner, 41 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 391 (2006)
  • Diagnosing Liability: The Legal History of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Deirdre M. Smith, 84 Temple L. Rev. (2011)
  • Do General Health Care Proxies Allow Voluntary Commitment? Summary of Cohen v. Bolduc, No. SJC-08554 (Mass. 01/11/2002).
  • Do State Laws Place Mental Health Professionals in Danger?
  • Dual Relationships, Multiple Relationships, & Boundary Decisions
  • Duty to Warn and Dissociative Identity Disorder Michael A. Norko
  • Forced Medication after U.S. v. Sell Donna Lee Elm & Doug Passon (2007)
  • Health Care Providers' Duty to Warn Judith J. Regan, MD, MBA, Ann Alderson, BA, William M. Regan, MD
  • Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of a Mental Health Court Council of State Governments Justice Center and Bureau of Justice Assistance (2008)
  • In Defense of Absolute Confidentiality Kenneth Kipnis
  • Informed Consent to Psychoanalysis: The Law, The Theory, and the Data Elyn R. Saks, University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series (March 2011)
  • The Insanity Defense in the Twenty-First Century: Julie E. Grachek (2006)
  • Judge: Mentally Ill Migrants Have Right to Lawyer Mercury News 12/23/10
  • Law Equalizes Coverage For Mental, Physical Care: 'Milestone' Measure Could Expand Treatment Services Chris L. Jenkins, Washington Post, October 10, 2008, page B01
  • Medical Necessity in Private Health Plans: Implications for Behavioral Health Care Center for Mental Health Services (2003)
  • Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General DHHS (1999)
  • Mental Health Courts: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice Council for State Governments Justice Center (2009)
  • Mental Health Courts: A Primer for Policymakers and Practitioners Council for State Governments and Bureau of Justice Assistance (2008)
  • Mental Illness and the Death Penalty
  • Mental Illness and the Freedom to Refuse Treatment: Privilege or Right Ronals Bassman
  • Online Readings in Psychology and Culture Walter J. Lonner et al., eds.
  • Overriding Mental Health Treatment Refusals: How Much Process is "Due"? Samuel Jan Brakel and John M. Davis (2008) more... less... 52 St. Louis University Law Review 501 (2008)
  • An Overview of Insanity on Trial (PBS)

Pace Law Digital Commons

  • Perspectives on Mental Disability Law 53 New York Law School Law Review (2008-2009).
  • Planning for Alzheimer’s Disease with Mental Health Advance Directives Lisa Ellen Brodoff, 17 Elder Law Journal (2009)
  • Policy Report: Civil Commitment under Medicaid Managed Care Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2000
  • Postpartum Depression and Women Who Kill Their Children Thomas L. Hafemeister, HealthLaw Prof Blog, April 27, 2011
  • Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illnesses and the Improvement of Mental Health Care UN General Assembly Resolution 46/119 (1991)
  • Prisoners Can Be Forced To Take Anti-Psychotic Drugs: Commentary on Sell v. United States
  • Psychiatric Malpractice: Basic Issues in Evolving Contexts
  • Sell v. U.S.: Involuntary Medication to Restore Trial Competency - A Workable Standard? Joan B. Gerbasi and Charles L. Scott (2004)
  • The Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act: The First Year Office of the New York State Attorney General (2008)
  • Still Waiting ... the Unfulfilled Promise of Olmstead Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • Tarasoff Warnings Resulting in Criminal Charges: Two Case Reports
  • Throwing the Key Away: An Examination Of New York’s Sex Offender Civil Commitment Law Joseph E. Fahey (2007)

Breaking News

New titles at pace law library, internet resources.

  • Access to Mental Hygiene Records in New York State: NY Commission on Quality of Care and Access for Persons with Disabilities
  • Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct American Psychological Association
  • Grading the States 2009: A Report on America’s Health Care System for Adults with Serious Mental Illness National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Mental Health Acronyms NY Office of Mental Health
  • Mental Retardation: Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefits
  • NY Sex Offender Management and Treatment Act: Flow Chart
  • Scope Note: Dangerousness: Prediction and Legal Status
  • The Mental Health Resource Handbook for Human Service Personnel Serving the Local Correctional Population (NY) NY Office of Mental Health (2001)

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR  RC455.2 .C4 A48 2000 Course Reserve

DSM-IV Sourcebook  RC 455.2 .C4 D754 1994

  • Dictionary of Psychology American Psychological Association
  • Mental Health.gov A comprehensive source of information from the federal government about mental disorders, diagnosis, medications, and research.
  • Mental Health Dictionary SAMHSA Mental Health Dictionary.

Treatises, Digests, Monographs

Organizations.

  • ABA Commission on Disability Rights Works "to promote the ABA's commitment to justice and the rule of law for persons with mental, physical, and sensory disabilities and to promote their full and equal participation in the legal profession."
  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • Disability Rights Legal Center
  • Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Policy Institute activities include academic programs, forensic clinical evaluations, professional training, empirical and theoretical research, and public policy consultation and review.
  • Law, Health Policy and Disability Center Leader in law, technology, education and research, focused on improving the quality of life for persons living with disabilities. University of Iowa College of Law
  • The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Center on Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice
  • National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers
  • World Federation for Mental Health
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Mental Health Dissertation Topics

Published by Carmen Troy at January 9th, 2023 , Revised On August 16, 2023

Introduction

You probably found your way here looking for mental health topics for your final year research project. Look no further, we have drafted a list of issues, and their research aims to help you when you are brainstorming for dissertation or thesis topics on mental health in 2020.

PhD-qualified writers of our team have developed these topics, so you can trust to use these topics for drafting your dissertation.

You may also want to start your dissertation by requesting a brief research proposal or full dissertation service from our writers on any of these topics, which includes an introduction to the topic, research question , aim and objectives, literature review , and the proposed research methodology to be conducted. Let us know if you need any help in getting started.

Check our dissertation examples to understand how to structure your dissertation .

Latest Mental Health Dissertation Topics for 2023

Review the step-by-step guide on how to write your dissertation here .

  • Topic 1: Assessing the Influence of Parents’ Divorce or Separation on Adolescent Children regarding long-term psychological impact.
  • Topic 2: Investigating the impact of Trauma and Health-related quality of life on a child’s Mental health and self-worth.

Topic 3: Assessing the effect of Psychological training on males suffering from Post-Surgery Anxiety in the UK.

  • Topic 4: Investigating the Relationship between Mental Illness and Suicides- A case study of UK’s Young Adults.

Topic 5: Examining the behaviour of Mental Health Nurses taking care of Schizophrenia Patients in the UK.

Topic 1: an assessment of the influence of parents' divorce or separation on adolescent children in terms of long-term psychological impact..

Research Aim: This study aims to investigate the level of traumas experienced by the children of divorced or separated parents. The principal aim of this study is to explore the long-term psychological impacts of parents’ divorce on the life of children regardless of their gender and age in terms of mental wellbeing, academic performance, and self-worth.

Topic 2: An investigation of the impact of Trauma and Health-related quality of life on the Mental health and Self-worth of a child.

Research Aim: This study aims to assess the long-term impacts of the trauma children face in their early years of life on their overall mental health. Also, numerous studies have emphasized improving the quality of life for children who tend to experience multiple traumas and take them along in adulthood. Therefore, this study also proposed the impacts of traumatic childhood experiences on self-worth, mental health, and vitality of implementing firm intervention before the child reaches adulthood.

Research Aim: Postoperative problems may occur as a result of surgical stress. This study aims to examine different approaches to control post-surgical anxiety and improve patients’ lives in the short and long term, focusing on male patients in the UK. It will also give us an understanding of how psychological training and interventions affect anxiety in male patients and help them overcome this through a systematic review.

Topic 4: Investigating the Relationship between Mental illness and Suicides- A case study of UK's Young Adults.

Research Aim: This study aims to find the relationship between mental illness and suicides and risk factors in the UK. This study will specifically focus on young adults. It will examine different mental disorders and how they have led to suicide and will analyse further studies of people who had died by suicide and find evidence of the presence or absence of mental illness.

Research Aim: Negative behaviours and discrimination have been usually reported as a reason for the inconvenience in the treatment of mentally ill or schizophrenia patients, which negatively impacts the patient’s results. Health care professionals’ attitudes have been regarded as being more negative than the general public, which lowers the outlook for patients suffering from mental illness. This study will examine the behaviour of mental health nurses regarding schizophrenia patients in the UK and also focus on the characteristics associated with nurses’ attitudes.

COVID-19 Mental Health Research Topics

Topic1: impacts of the coronavirus on the mental health of various age groups.

Research Aim: This study will reveal the impacts of coronavirus on the mental health of various age groups

Topic 2: Mental health and psychological resilience during COVID-19

Research Aim: Social distancing has made people isolated and affected their mental health. This study will highlight various measures to overcome the stress and mental health of people during coronavirus.

Topic 3: The mental health of children and families during COVID-19

Research Aim: This study will address the challenging situations faced by children and families during lockdown due to COVID-19. It will also discuss various ways to overcome the fear of disease and stay positive.

Topic 4: Mental wellbeing of patients during the Coronavirus pandemic

Research Aim: This study will focus on the measures taken by the hospital management, government, and families to ensure patients’ mental well-being, especially COVID-19 patients.

Best Mental Health Topics for Your Dissertation in the Year 2021

Topic 1: kids and their relatives with cancer: psychological challenges.

Research Aim: In cancer diagnoses and therapies, children often don’t know what happens. Many have psychosocial problems, including rage, terror, depression, disturbing their sleep, inexpiable guilt, and panic. Therefore, this study is designed to identify and treat the child and its family members’ psychological issues.

Topic 2: Hematopoietic device reaction in ophthalmology patient’s radiation therapy

Research Aim: This research is based on the analysis of hematopoietic devices’ reactions to ophthalmology’s radiation.

Topic 3: Psychological effects of cyberbullying Vs. physical bullying: A counter study

Research Aim: This research will focus on the effects of cyberbullying and physical bullying and their consequences on the victim’s mental health. The most significant part is the counter effects on our society’s environment and human behaviour, particularly youth.

Topic 4: Whether or not predictive processing is a theory of perceptual consciousness?

Research Aim: This research aims to identify: whether or not predictive processing is a theory of perceptual consciousness?

Topic 5: Importance of communication in a relationship

Research Aim: This research aims to address the importance of communication in relationships and the communication gap consequences.

Topic 6: Eating and personality disorders

Research Aim: This research aims to focus on eating and personality disorders

Topic 7: Analysis of teaching, assessment, and evaluation of students and learning differences

Research Aim: This research aims to analyse teaching methods, assessment, and evaluation systems of students and their learning differences

Topic 8: Social and psychological effects of virtual networks

Research Aim: This research aims to study the social and psychological effects of virtual networks

Topic 9: The role of media in provoking aggression

Research Aim: This research aims to address the role of media and in provoking aggression among people

Best Mental Health Topics for Your Dissertation in the Year 2020

Topic 1: what is the impact of social media platforms on the mental wellbeing of adults.

Research Aim: the current study aims to investigate the impact social media platforms tend to have on adults’ mental well-being with a particular focus on the United Kingdom. While many studies have been carried out to gauge the impact of social media platforms on teenagers’ mental well-being, little to no research has been performed to investigate how the health of adults might be affected by the same and how social media platforms like Facebook impact them.

Topic 2: The contemporary practical management approach to treating personality disorders

Research Aim: This research will discuss the contemporary practical management approach for treating personality disorders in mental health patients. In the previous days, much of the personality disorder treatments were based on medicines and drugs. Therefore, this research will address contemporary and practical ways to manage how personality disorders affect the mental state of the individuals who have the disease.

Topic 3: How is Prozac being used in the modern-day to treat self-diagnosed depression?

Research Aim: In the current day and age, besides people suffering from clinical depression, many of the teens and the adults across have started to suffer from self-diagnosed depression. To treat their self-diagnosed depression, individuals take Prozac through all the wrong means, which harms their mental state even more. Therefore, the current study aims to shed light on how Prozac is being used in the modern age and the adverse effects of misinformed use on the patients.

Topic 4: Are women more prone to suffer from mental disorders than men: Comparative analysis

Research Aim: There have been several arguments regarding whether women are more likely to suffer from mental disorders than men. Much of the research carried out provides evidence that women are more prone to suffer from mental disorders. This research study aims to conduct a comparative analysis to determine whether it’s more likely for men or women to suffer from mental disorders and what role biological and societal factors play in determining the trend.

Topic 5: The impact of breakups on the mental health of men?

Research Aim: Several studies have been carried out to discuss how women are affected more by a breakup than men. However, little research material is available in support of the impact the end of a relationship can have on men’s mental health. Therefore, this research study will fill out the gap in research to determine the impact of a breakup on men’s mental health and stability.

Topic 6: A theoretical analysis of the Impact of emotional attachment on mental health?

Research Aim: This research aims to analyse the theories developed around emotional attachment to address how emotional attachment can harm individuals’ mental health across the globe. Several theories discuss the role that emotional attachment tends to play in the mind of a healthy being, and how emotional attachment can often negatively affect mental well-being.

Topic 7: How do social media friendships contribute to poor mental health?

Research Aim: This research idea aims to address how social media friendships and networking can often lead to a lack of self-acceptance, self-loathing, self-pity, self-comparison, and depression due to the different mindsets that are present in today’s world.

Topic 8: What role do parents play in ensuring the mental well-being of their children?

Research Aim: It is assumed that parents tend to stop playing a role in ensuring that the mental health and well-being of their children are being maintained after a certain age. Therefore, this study will aim to put forward the idea that even after the children pass the age of 18, activities and their relationship with their parents would always play a role in the way their mental health is being transformed.

Topic 9: A study on the mental health of soldiers returning from Iraq?

Research Aim: This topic idea puts forward the aim that the mental health of soldiers who return from war-struck areas is always a subject of interest, as each of the soldiers carries a mental burden. Therefore, it is vital to understand the soldiers’ mental health returning from Iraq, focusing on what causes their mental health to deteriorate during the war and suggestions of what to do or who to call if they do become unwell.

Topic 10: How the contemporary media practices in the UK are leading to mental health problems?

Research Aim: The media is known to have control and influence over people’s mindsets who are connected to it. Many of the contemporary media practices developed in the UK can negatively impact the mental well-being of individuals, which makes it necessary to analyse how they are contributing to the mental health problems among the UK population.

Topic 11: What is the impact of television advertising on the mental development of children in the UK?

Research Aim: This topic would aim to address how television advertising can negatively impact children’s mental development in the United Kingdom, as it has been observed in many studies that television advertising is detrimental to the mental health of children.

Topic 12: How deteriorating mental health can have an Impact on physical health?

Research Aim: This research aims to address the side-effects of deteriorating mental health on the physical health of individuals in the society, as it is believed that the majority of the physical ailments in the modern-day and age are due to the deteriorating mental health of individuals. The study can address the treatments for many ailments in our society due to deteriorating mental health and well-being.

Topic 13: The relationship between unemployment and mental health

Research Aim: How unemployment relates to concepts, such as a declining economy or lack of social skills and education, has been frequently explored by many researchers in the past. However, not many have discussed the relationship between unemployment and the mental health of unemployed individuals. Therefore, this topic will help address the problems faced by individuals due to unemployment because of the mental blocks they are likely to develop and experience. In the future, it would lead to fewer people being depressed due to unemployment when further research is carried out.

Topic 14: The mental health problems of prisoners in the United Kingdom

Research Aim: While prisoners across the globe are criticised and studied for the negativity that goes on in their mindsets, one would rarely research the mental health problems they tend to develop when they become a prisoner for committing any crime. It is often assumed that it is the life inside the prison walls that impacts the prisoners’ mental health in a way that leads to them committing more crimes. Therefore, this research topic has been developed to study prison’s impact on prisoners’ mental well-being in the United Kingdom to eventually decrease the number of crimes that occur due to the negative environment inside the prisons.

Topic 15: Mental well-being of industry workers in China

Research Aim: While many research studies have been carried out regarding the conditions that the workers in China tend to be exposed to, there is very little supporting evidence regarding the impact such working conditions have on the mindset and mental health of the workers. Therefore, this study aims to address the challenges faced by industry workers in China and the impact that such challenges can have on their mental well-being.

Topic 16: Is the provision of mental health care services in the United Kingdom effective?

Research Aim: Many people have made different assumptions regarding the mental health care services provided across the globe. However, it seems that little to no research has been carried out regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the provision of mental health care services in the United Kingdom. Therefore, this study aims to put forward research into the mental health care services provided in well-developed countries like the United Kingdom to gauge the awareness and importance of mental health in the region.

Topic 17: What are the mental health problems the minorities in the United Kingdom face?

Research Aim: It is believed that the minorities in the United Kingdom are likely to experience physical abuse, societal abuse and are often exposed to discrimination and unfair acts at the workplace and in their social circle. The study investigates the range of mental problems faced by minorities in the UK, which need to be addressed to have equality, diversity, and harmony.

Topic 18: The impact the Coronavirus has had on the mental health of the Chinese people

Research Aim: The spread of the deadly Coronavirus has led to many deaths in the region of China, and many of those who have been suspected of the virus are being put in isolation and quarantine. Such conditions tend to have hurt the mental health of those who have suffered from the disease and those who have watched people suffer from it. Therefore, the current study aims to address how the Coronavirus has impacted the mental health of the Chinese people.

Topic 19: How to create change in mental health organisations in China?

Research Aim: Research suggests little awareness about mental health in many Asian countries. As mental health problems are on the rise across the globe, it is necessary to change mental health organisations. Therefore, the study aims to discuss how to create change in mental health organisations in the Asian region using China’s example.

Topic 20: Addressing the mental health concerns of the Syrian refugees in the UK

Research Aim: This research project would address the concerns in terms of the refugees’ mental health and well-being, using an example of the Syrian refugees who had been allowed entry into the United Kingdom. This idea aims to put forward the negative effects that migration can have on the refugees and how further research is required to combat such issues not just in the United Kingdom but worldwide.

How Can ResearchProspect Help?

ResearchProspect writers can send several custom topic ideas to your email address. Once you have chosen a topic that suits your needs and interests, you can order for our dissertation outline service which will include a brief introduction to the topic, research questions , literature review , methodology , expected results , and conclusion . The dissertation outline will enable you to review the quality of our work before placing the order for our full dissertation writing service!

Important Notes:

As a mental health student looking to get good grades, it is essential to develop new ideas and experiment on existing mental health theories – i.e., to add value and interest in the topic of your research.

Mental health is vast and interrelated to so many other academic disciplines like civil engineering ,  construction ,  project management , engineering management , healthcare , finance and accounting , artificial intelligence , tourism , physiotherapy , sociology , management , project management , and nursing . That is why it is imperative to create a project management dissertation topic that is articular, sound, and actually solves a practical problem that may be rampant in the field.

We can’t stress how important it is to develop a logical research topic based on your entire research. There are several significant downfalls to getting your topic wrong; your supervisor may not be interested in working on it, the topic has no academic creditability, the research may not make logical sense, there is a possibility that the study is not viable.

This impacts your time and efforts in writing your dissertation as you may end up in the cycle of rejection at the initial stage of the dissertation. That is why we recommend reviewing existing research to develop a topic, taking advice from your supervisor, and even asking for help in this particular stage of your dissertation.

While developing a research topic, keeping our advice in mind will allow you to pick one of the best mental health dissertation topics that fulfill your requirement of writing a research paper and add to the body of knowledge.

Therefore, it is recommended that when finalizing your dissertation topic, you read recently published literature to identify gaps in the research that you may help fill.

Remember- dissertation topics need to be unique, solve an identified problem, be logical, and be practically implemented. Please look at some of our sample mental health dissertation topics to get an idea for your own dissertation.

How to Structure your Mental Health Dissertation

A well-structured dissertation can help students to achieve a high overall academic grade.

  • A Title Page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Declaration
  • Abstract: A summary of the research completed
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction : This chapter includes the project rationale, research background, key research aims and objectives, and the research problems. An outline of the structure of a dissertation can also be added to this chapter.
  • Literature Review : This chapter presents relevant theories and frameworks by analysing published and unpublished literature available on the chosen research topic to address research questions . The purpose is to highlight and discuss the selected research area’s relative weaknesses and strengths whilst identifying any research gaps. Break down the topic, and key terms that can positively impact your dissertation and your tutor.
  • Methodology : The data collection and analysis methods and techniques employed by the researcher are presented in the Methodology chapter which usually includes research design , research philosophy, research limitations, code of conduct, ethical consideration, data collection methods, and data analysis strategy .
  • Findings and Analysis : Findings of the research are analysed in detail under the Findings and Analysis chapter. All key findings/results are outlined in this chapter without interpreting the data or drawing any conclusions. It can be useful to include graphs, charts, and tables in this chapter to identify meaningful trends and relationships.
  • Discussion and Conclusion : The researcher presents his interpretation of results in this chapter, and state whether the research hypothesis has been verified or not. An essential aspect of this section of the paper is to draw a linkage between the results and evidence from the literature. Recommendations with regards to implications of the findings and directions for the future may also be provided. Finally, a summary of the overall research, along with final judgments, opinions, and comments, must be included in the form of suggestions for improvement.
  • References : This should be completed following your University’s requirements
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices : Any additional information, diagrams, and graphs used to complete the dissertation but not part of the dissertation should be included in the Appendices chapter. Essentially, the purpose is to expand the information/data.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to find mental health dissertation topics.

To find mental health dissertation topics:

  • Research recent mental health issues.
  • Examine gaps in existing literature.
  • Consider diverse populations or perspectives.
  • Explore treatment approaches or therapies.
  • Look into stigma and societal factors.
  • Select a topic that resonates with you for in-depth study.

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60 popular mental health research paper topics.

Mental Health Research Paper Topics

The best way to write a good mental health research paper is to select a topic that you will enjoy working on. If you are looking for some interesting mental health research paper topics to work on, here is a list of 60 ideas to choose from.

Perfect for students as well as experts these topics have ample scope to experiment, share ideas and arguments on, and find substantial evidence to support your view. Take a look –

Mental Health Topics for Research Paper

When you are writing a paper for a graded assignment, it is important to have some great research paper topics about mental health to pick from. Here are some to consider –

  • Mental traumas from physical injuries and how to help recover
  • Resilience building – why is it important for children?
  • Friendships in men and how they contribute to mental health?
  • The role of parenting in building good mental health in children
  • What is normal emotional health and mental functioning?
  • Anti-depressants and their side effects.
  • Indicators suggesting medication for depression can be stopped
  • Effects of colors on mental health
  • How and why does lack of sleep effect emotional mental health?
  • Effect of exercise on a patient’s mental health
  • Effective methods to boost brain health and emotional quotient as we age
  • Mental health developmental stages in children from birth to 5 years of age
  • Why is play important for mental health in children
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – what causes it and how to manage?
  • ADHD — how to identify if someone has it?

Critical Analysis Research Paper Topics in Mental Health

For psychology students looking for effective research paper topics mental health offers many arenas for critical analysis. Here are some good topics to pick from –

  • Relevance of Freud in modern day psychiatry
  • Abortion care – the ethics and the procedures to facilitate emotional wellbeing
  • Are women facing more mental health issues than men?
  • Suicide – The reasons, trauma, and dealing with it
  • How does peer pressure change mental wellness and how to deal with it?
  • Effect of child abuse on toddlers’ mental health and resilience
  • Does Obesity affect mental health?
  • Is the damage on mental health caused by sexual abuse permanent?
  • Hormonal imbalances and their effect on women’s mental health
  • How to identify signs of mental illness in a loved one?

Music Therapy Research Paper Topics Mental Health

Music plays a significant role in enhancing mental health. Here are some mental health research paper topics on the role of music therapy in the field of mental health and treatments:

  • Music therapy a complimentary approach to biomedicine
  • Does music therapy facilitate enhanced healing?
  • Efficacy of music therapy for older adults
  • The role of music therapy in rehabilitation of mental health patients
  • Music based interventions and the effects of music therapy
  • Eating disorders and can music therapy help?
  • Can music therapy help with mental health during menopause?
  • Music therapy and its role in PTSD

Mental Health Nursing Research Paper Topics

If you are a nursing student you will certainly find these research paper topics for mental health useful for your assignment –

  • Psychiatric care in adult patients of mental health disorders
  • Non-chemical practices in bipolar disorder
  • Mental health care for patients dealing with alcohol addiction
  • Managing PTSD in armed forces veterans
  • Ethics to deal with psychiatric patients
  • Postpartum depression and how to identify and assist in early stages
  • Identifying the signs and managing patients with eating disorder
  • Mental illnesses common in soldiers returning from war
  • Signs of mental illness that must never be ignored
  • How to manage self-destructive mental health patients?

Controversial Research Paper Topics About Mental Health

Some mental health topics are controversial, but also well scoring if handled well. Take a look at some such topics worth considering –

  • Do natural alternatives to anti-depressants work?
  • Extreme postpartum depression leading to child harming tendencies
  • Infertility and its effects on mental health of the couple
  • Are more women suicidal than men?
  • Effect of teen relationship problems on mental health
  • The relationship between mental health and child abusers
  • Physical abuse in marriage and its effect on mental health
  • Rape and managing the emotional scars for effective healing
  • Self-destructive tendencies in children – causes and cures
  • Is it possible that there are people without conscience?
  • Are video games making children violent and aggressive?
  • Should criminals facing trial be subjected to genetic testing for impulse control?
  • Mental health in teenagers and why they cut themselves
  • Phobias – some of the most common and unusual fears people have
  • Divorce and how it affects the mental health of children
  • Is mental illness genetic
  • Does discovery of being adopted affect mental health of a child?

If you are a college student wondering what is the best way to write a research paper or how to write an effective submission that will get you good grades, you can get in touch with us for writing help. Our team offers fast and cheap assistance with writing papers that are appropriate for your level of education.

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207 Mental Health Research Topics For Top Students

Mental Health Research Topics

College and university students pursuing psychology studies must write research papers on mental health in their studies. It is not always an exciting moment for the students since getting quality mental health topics is tedious. However, this article presents expert ideas and writing tips for students in this field. Enjoy!

What Is Mental Health?

It is an integral component of health that deals with the feeling of well-being when one realizes his or her abilities, cope with the pressures of life, and productively work. Mental health also incorporates how humans interact with each other, emote, or think. It is a vital concern of any human life that cannot be neglected.

How To Write Mental Health Research Topics

One should approach the subject of mental health with utmost preciseness. If handled carelessly, cases such as depression, suicide or low self-esteem may occur. That is why students are advised to carefully choose mental health research paper topics for their paper with the mind reader.

To get mental health topics for research paper, you can use the following sources:

  • The WHO website
  • Websites of renowned psychology clinics
  • News reports and headlines.

However, we have a list of writing ideas that you can use for your inspiration. Check them out!

Top Mental Disorders Research Topics

  • Is the psychological treatment of mental disorders working for all?
  • How do substance-use disorders impede the healing process?
  • Discuss the effectiveness of the mental health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP)
  • Are non-specialists in mental health able to manage severe mental disorders?
  • The role of the WHO in curbing and treating mental disorders globally
  • The contribution of coronavirus pandemic to mental disorders
  • How does television contribute to mental disorders among teens?
  • Does religion play a part in propagating mental disorders?
  • How does peer pressure contribute to mental disorders among teens?
  • The role of the guidance and counselling departments in helping victims of mental disorders
  • How to develop integrated and responsive mental health to such disorders
  • Discuss various strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health
  • The role of information systems in mental disorders

Mental Illness Research Questions

  • The role of antidepressant medicines in treating mental illnesses
  • How taxation of alcoholic beverages and their restriction can help in curbing mental illnesses
  • The impact of mental illnesses on the economic development of a country
  • Efficient and cost-effective ways of treating mental illnesses
  • Early childhood interventions to prevent future mental illnesses
  • Why children from single-parent families are prone to mental illnesses
  • Do opportunities for early learning have a role in curbing mental diseases?
  • Life skills programmes that everyone should embrace to fight mental illnesses
  • The role of nutrition and diet in causing mental illness
  • How socio-economic empowerment of women can help promote mental health
  • Practical social support for elderly populations to prevent mental illnesses
  • How to help vulnerable groups against mental illnesses
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of mental health promotional activities in schools

Hot Mental Health Topics For Research

  • Do stress prevention programmes on TV work?
  • The role of anti-discrimination laws and campaigns in promoting mental health
  • Discuss specific psychological and personality factors leading to mental disorders
  • How can biological factors lead to mental problems?
  • How stressful work conditions can stir up mental health disorders
  • Is physical ill-health a pivotal contributor to mental disorders today?
  • Why sexual violence has led many to depression and suicide
  • The role of life experiences in mental illnesses: A case of trauma
  • How family history can lead to mental health problems
  • Can people with mental health problems recover entirely?
  • Why sleeping too much or minor can be an indicator of mental disorders.
  • Why do people with mental health problems pull away from others?
  • Discuss confusion as a sign of mental disorders

Research Topics For Mental Health Counseling

  • Counselling strategies that help victims cope with the stresses of life
  • Is getting professional counselling help becoming too expensive?
  • Mental health counselling for bipolar disorders
  • How psychological counselling affects victims of mental health disorders
  • What issues are students free to share with their guiding and counselling masters?
  • Why are relationship issues the most prevalent among teenagers?
  • Does counselling help in the case of obsessive-compulsive disorders?
  • Is counselling a cure to mental health problems?
  • Why talking therapies are the most effective in dealing with mental disorders
  • How does talking about your experiences help in dealing with the problem?
  • Why most victims approach their counsellors feeling apprehensive and nervous
  • How to make a patient feel comfortable during a counselling session
  • Why counsellors should not push patients to talk about stuff they aren’t ready to share

Mental Health Law Research Topics

  • Discuss the effectiveness of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Does the Capacity to Consent to Treatment law push patients to the wall?
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of mental health courts
  • Does forcible medication lead to severe mental health problems?
  • Discuss the institutionalization of mental health facilities
  • Analyze the Consent to Clinical Research using mentally ill patients
  • What rights do mentally sick patients have? Are they effective?
  • Critically analyze proxy decision making for mental disorders
  • Why some Psychiatric Advance directives are punitive
  • Discuss the therapeutic jurisprudence of mental disorders
  • How effective is legal guardianship in the case of mental disorders?
  • Discuss psychology laws & licensing boards in the United States
  • Evaluate state insanity defence laws

Controversial Research Paper Topics About Mental Health

  • Do mentally ill patients have a right to choose whether to go to psychiatric centres or not?
  • Should families take the elderly to mental health institutions?
  • Does the doctor have the right to end the life of a terminally ill mental patient?
  • The use of euthanasia among extreme cases of mental health
  • Are mental disorders a result of curses and witchcraft?
  • Do violent video games make children aggressive and uncontrollable?
  • Should mental institutions be located outside the cities?
  • How often should families visit their relatives who are mentally ill?
  • Why the government should fully support the mentally ill
  • Should mental health clinics use pictures of patients without their consent?
  • Should families pay for the care of mentally ill relatives?
  • Do mentally ill patients have the right to marry or get married?
  • Who determines when to send a patient to a mental health facility?

Mental Health Topics For Discussion

  • The role of drama and music in treating mental health problems
  • Explore new ways of coping with mental health problems in the 21 st century
  • How social media is contributing to various mental health problems
  • Does Yoga and meditation help to treat mental health complications?
  • Is the mental health curriculum for psychology students inclusive enough?
  • Why solving problems as a family can help alleviate mental health disorders
  • Why teachers can either maintain or disrupt the mental state of their students
  • Should patients with mental health issues learn to live with their problems?
  • Why socializing is difficult for patients with mental disorders
  • Are our online psychology clinics effective in handling mental health issues?
  • Discuss why people aged 18-25 are more prone to mental health problems
  • Analyze the growing trend of social stigma in the United States
  • Are all people with mental health disorders violent and dangerous?

Mental Health Of New Mothers Research Topics

  • The role of mental disorders in mother-infant bonding
  • How mental health issues could lead to delays in the emotional development of the infant
  • The impact of COVID-19 physical distancing measures on postpartum women
  • Why anxiety and depression are associated with preterm delivery
  • The role of husbands in attending to wives’ postpartum care needs
  • What is the effectiveness of screening for postpartum depression?
  • The role of resilience in dealing with mental issues after delivery
  • Why marginalized women are more prone to postpartum depression
  • Why failure to bond leads to mental disorders among new mothers
  • Discuss how low and middle-income countries contribute to perinatal depression
  • How to prevent the recurrence of postpartum mental disorders in future
  • The role of anti-depression drugs in dealing with depression among new mothers
  • A case study of the various healthcare interventions for perinatal anxiety and mood disorders

What Are The Hot Topics For Mental Health Research Today

  • Discuss why mental health problems may be a result of a character flaw
  • The impact of damaging stereotypes in mental health
  • Why are many people reluctant to speak about their mental health issues?
  • Why the society tends to judge people with mental issues
  • Does alcohol and wasting health help one deal with a mental problem?
  • Discuss the role of bullying in causing mental health disorders among students
  • Why open forums in school and communities can help in curbing mental disorders
  • How to build healthy relationships that can help in solving mental health issues
  • Discuss frustration and lack of understanding in relationships
  • The role of a stable and supportive family in preventing mental disorders
  • How parents can start mental health conversations with their children
  • Analyze the responsibilities of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
  • The role of a positive mind in dealing with psychological problems

Good Research Topics On Refugees Mental Health

  • Why do refugees find themselves under high levels of stress?
  • Discuss the modalities of looking after the mental health of refugees
  • Evaluate the importance of a cultural framework in helping refugees with mental illnesses
  • How refugee camp administrators can help identify mental health disorders among refugees
  • Discuss the implications of dangerous traditional practices
  • The role of the UNHCR in assisting refugees with mental problems
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder among refugees
  • Dealing with hopelessness among refugees
  • The prevalence of traumatic experiences in refugee camps
  • Does cognitive-behavioural therapy work for refugees?
  • Discuss the role of policy planning in dealing with refugee-mental health problems
  • Are psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine effective in refugee camps?
  • Practical groups and in‐group therapeutic settings for refugee camps

Adolescent Mental Health Research Topics

  • Discuss why suicide is among the leading causes of death among adolescents
  • The role of acting-out behaviour or substance use in mental issues among adolescents
  • Mental effects of unsafe sexual behaviour among adolescents
  • Psychopharmacologic agents and menstrual dysfunction in adolescents
  • The role of confidentiality in preventive care visits
  • Mental health disorders and impairment among adolescents
  • Why adolescents not in school risk developing mental disorders
  • Does a clinical model work for adolescents with mental illnesses?
  • The role of self-worth and esteem in dealing with adolescent mental disorders
  • How to develop positive relationships with peers
  • Technology and mental ill-health among adolescents
  • How to deal with stigma among adolescents
  • Curriculum that supports young people to stay engaged and motivated

Research Topics For Mental Health And Government

  • Evaluate mental health leadership and governance in the United States
  • Advocacy and partnerships in dealing with mental health
  • Discuss mental health and socio-cultural perspective
  • Management and coordination of mental health policy frameworks
  • Roles and responsibilities of governments in dealing with mental health
  • Monitoring and evaluation of mental health policies
  • What is the essence of a mental health commission?
  • Benefits of mental well-being to the prosperity of a country
  • Necessary reforms to the mental health systems
  • Legal frameworks for dealing with substance use disorders
  • How mental health can impede the development of a country
  • The role of the government in dealing with decaying mental health institutions
  • Inadequate legislation in dealing with mental health problems

Abnormal Psychology Topics

  • What does it mean to display strange behaviour?
  • Role of mental health professionals in dealing with abnormal psychology
  • Discuss the concept of dysfunction in mental illness
  • How does deviance relate to mental illness?
  • Role of culture and social norms
  • The cost of treating abnormal psychology in the US
  • Using aversive treatment in abnormal psychology
  • Importance of psychological debriefing
  • Is addiction a mental disease?
  • Use of memory-dampening drugs
  • Coercive interrogations and psychology

Behavioural Health Issues In Mental Health

  • Detachment from reality
  • Inability to withstand daily problems
  • Conduct disorder among children
  • Role of therapy in behavioural disorders
  • Eating and drinking habits and mental health
  • Addictive behaviour patterns for teenagers in high school
  • Discuss mental implications of gambling and sex addiction
  • Impact of maladaptive behaviours on the society
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Confused thinking
  • Role of friends in behavioural complications
  • Spiritual leaders in helping deal with behavioural issues
  • Suicidal thoughts

Latest Psychology Research Topics

  • Discrimination and prejudice in a society
  • Impact of negative social cognition
  • Role of personal perceptions
  • How attitudes affect mental well-being
  • Effects of cults on cognitive behaviour
  • Marketing and psychology
  • How romance can distort normal cognitive functioning
  • Why people with pro-social behaviour may be less affected
  • Leadership and mental health
  • Discuss how to deal with anti-social personality disorders
  • Coping with phobias in school
  • The role of group therapy
  • Impact of dreams on one’s psychological behaviour

Professional Psychiatry Research Topics

  • The part of false memories
  • Media and stress disorders
  • Impact of gender roles
  • Role of parenting styles
  • Age and psychology
  • The biography of Harry Harlow
  • Career paths in psychology
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Dealing with paranoia
  • Delusions and their remedy
  • A distorted perception of reality
  • Rights of mental caregivers
  • Dealing with a loss
  • Handling a break-up

Consider using our expert research paper writing services for your mental health paper today. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

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A National Study of Police Mental Health in the USA: Stigma, Mental Health and Help-Seeking Behaviors

  • Published: 23 January 2021
  • Volume 36 , pages 295–306, ( 2021 )

Cite this article

  • Jacqueline M. Drew   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5586-7873 1 &
  • Sherri Martin 2  

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Policing is a high risk, high stress occupation involving repeated exposure to distressing situations. High levels of emotional and physical exhaustion lead to increased prevalence of psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Mental health stigma is prevalent among police and is one of the most significant barriers to seeking mental health services. The current study contributes to the limited body of existing empirical research examining stigmatization and help-seeking behavior in policing. The research involves a nationwide study of USA law enforcement personnel, giving a snapshot of mental health stigma on a large scale and with national representation. It was found that over 90% of officers perceive stigma as negatively influencing help-seeking behavior. Even when officers do seek help and find it effective, stigma remains at alarmingly high levels and is not reduced by help-seeking behaviors. This study has important implications for police agencies. Regardless of the efforts of police agencies in increasing mental health literacy and offering greater and better access to mental health services, if stigma remains, such efforts will be rendered ineffective, or at the very least, severely limited.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Television Network in the data collection phase of the research.

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Jacqueline M. Drew

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Drew, J.M., Martin, S. A National Study of Police Mental Health in the USA: Stigma, Mental Health and Help-Seeking Behaviors. J Police Crim Psych 36 , 295–306 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11896-020-09424-9

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Mental Health Law Topics

Mental health law was first conceived as a separate field of law in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before then, laws certainly existed on various topics later subsumed within mental health law. These included the law governing civil commitment, guardianship, the legal insanity defense, and incompetency to stand trial , among others. The common law had clarified some of the legal issues raised by mental illness, and there had been some statutory developments, but it was not until the U.S. Supreme Court began to constitutionalize the issues that these disparate strands of legal doctrine began to be thought of as a separate area of law. Read more about  Mental Health Law .

Mental Health Law Research Topics

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Capacity to Consent to Treatment
  • Civil Commitment
  • Consent to Clinical Research
  • End-of-Life Issues
  • Forcible Medication
  • Institutionalization and Deinstitutionalization
  • Involuntary Outpatient Commitment
  • Legal Guardianship
  • Mandated Community Treatment
  • Mental Health Courts
  • Patient’s Rights
  • Proxy Decision Making
  • Psychiatric Advance Directives
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Therapeutic Jurisprudence

Modern courts often deal with a variety of psychosocial problems involving individuals in need of treatment and rehabilitation. Thus, problems of substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, and family disintegration increasingly have come to the attention of the courts. The approach of therapeutic jurisprudence has helped to pioneer new judicial models for dealing with these issues, including specialized treatment or problem-solving courts such as drug treatment court, domestic violence court, mental health court, and unified family court. These new judicial models, inspired by and applying principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, represent an expansion of traditional mental health law to additional contexts in which the law seeks to improve the mental health and psychological functioning of the individual and the society.

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Mental health research topics are becoming increasingly important in our society today. With the rise of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is essential for students to understand the causes and effects of these conditions. Researching mental health can help us prevent and treat these illnesses before it's not too late.

That's why our paper writers curated this list compiling mental health research paper topics and ideas spanning various aspects. From psychological disorders to the role of society in mental health and therapeutic strategies, we covered 250 top mental health topics to write about. So, if you’re looking for help on starting your next mental health project, this list will provide you with the best ideas.

What Are Mental Health Research Topics?

Mental health research topics focus on understanding the causes, effects, and treatment of mental illnesses. It is important for students to explore these topics as they can help us understand how psychological disorders develop. This, in turn, allows us to optimize our treatment strategies. Researching mental health can also help us form healthier habits and lifestyles that promote positive mental health.

Characteristics of Good Mental Health Research Topics

How well you understand the theme characteristics can either make or break your research project. That's why, before you choose any mental health research topic, it is important to consider the features that make it good. Make sure your research topic about mental health meets the criteria listed below:

  • Relevant Give preference to topic ideas that are relevant to the current trends in society.
  • Interesting Find a topic you can approach from various angles while maintaining your engagement in research.
  • Feasible Ensure that the idea can be researched in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Original Try to pick between original mental health research questions and take a unique approach when investigating a certain aspect.
  • Accessible Make sure you have access to enough resources and data to complete your research.

How to Choose a Mental Health Research Topic?

Narrowing down your choices can be an intimidating process. To make it easier for you, we’ve rendered some secrets that will help you select the right research topic about mental health:

  • Brainstorm Try to come up with as many ideas as possible by writing them out on paper or creating a mind map.
  • Analyze your ideas Once you have a list of mental health project ideas, analyze each one and decide which ones are more appropriate for your research.
  • Explore further Certain topics may require extra research before settling on them. Make sure to look for relevant studies and determine whether you have enough time to run your research.
  • Seek consultation Sometimes you may just miss out something important. Discuss your ideas with your peers, professors, or online research paper writers to get constructive feedback.
  • Refine After getting input from others, polish your research topic idea further before committing to it.

Hopefully, these tips  will help you select the best research topics on mental health and start your exploration on the right note. Let’s now move forward to the actual ideas.

List of Mental Health Research Paper Topics

Below you will find a unique collection of hot mental health research paper topics. Designed to inspire students, budding researchers, and knowledge seekers, this list of ideas will surely be helpful.

  • The impact of socioeconomic status on mental health conditions.
  • Exploring the role of social media in mental illness.
  • Analyze how trauma affects mental health.
  • Investigating stress management strategies for anxiety disorders.
  • Impact of sleep disorders on mental health.
  • Art therapy: A non-traditional approach to emotional health.
  • The relationship between childhood trauma and adult mental health.
  • The role of genetics in mental health disorders.
  • Understanding the psychology of eating disorders.
  • The interplay of physical activity and mental health.
  • The psychological impact of chronic diseases.
  • Internet addiction and its psychological implications.
  • Comparative analysis of Western and Eastern mental health practices.
  • Suicide prevention strategies in youth.
  • The role of AI and technology in emotional health care.
  • A closer look at post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • The intersection of mental health and homelessness.
  • The efficacy of animal-assisted therapy in emotional wellbeing.
  • The role of culture in mental health treatment.
  • Exploring the link between mental illness and substance abuse.

Good Mental Health Research Topics

Below we’ve put together a list of good research topics about mental health worth your attention. Take a look and you may find the perfect topic to inspire your next project:

  • Nature vs. Nurture: The origins of emotional wellbeing disturbance.
  • Effectiveness of virtual therapy in treating depression.
  • Investigating anxiety management strategies through mindfulness.
  • Understanding the psychological effects of online harassment.
  • The growing mental health crisis in young adults.
  • Exploring the influence of family relationships on mental health.
  • Investigating the role of exercise in reducing stress.
  • How climate change influences emotional wellness.
  • Assessing the role of financial stress in psychological illness.
  • Examining the need for improving healthcare systems related to mental health.
  • The Influence of social media on teenage mental health.
  • Exploring the connection between mental illness and addiction.
  • Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in treating anxiety.
  • The impact of social isolation on mental wellness.
  • Understanding the impacts of racism on emotional wellbeing.

Interesting Mental Health Research Topics

Sometimes all you need is a spark of inspiration. If that’s the case for you, then take a look at these captivating topics about mental health:

  • Exploring the impacts of divorce on mental health.
  • Examining the role of good nutrition in emotional wellbeing.
  • An analysis of the impact of unemployment on mental illness.
  • Impact of taxation policies on emotional wellness.
  • Analyzing the role of online support groups in mental health care.
  • Investigating the stigma of mental health in universities.
  • The need for better communication strategies in treating psychological illness.
  • Analyze the impact of occupational stress on mental wellbeing.
  • Examine how social exclusion affects emotional wellness.
  • The growing need for mental health education in schools.
  • Understanding the importance of parental support for emotional stability.
  • The role of financial literacy in reducing psychological distress.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of aromatherapy for stress relief.
  • Analyzing the use of peer counseling in mental health care.
  • Exploring new technologies for mental health diagnosis.

Unique Mental Health Research Topics

Ready for something more authentic? Take a look at these research paper topics about mental health and give them your best shot:

  • Examining the need for gender-sensitive mental health care.
  • Exploring the impacts of physical disability on emotional wellbeing.
  • The use of digital technology for mental health awareness.
  • Analyzing the impact of video gaming on psychological health.
  • Exploring the efficacy of yoga and meditation in treating depression.
  • The importance of early identification and treatment of mental illness.
  • Examining the need for mental health support among LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • Are alternative therapies effective in treating distress?
  • Exploring the links between pet ownership and emotional stability.
  • Use of music therapy in treating anxiety disorders.
  • Exploring the psychological effects of noise pollution.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of online forums in emotional health therapy.
  • Examining the impacts of aging on mental health.
  • How does cognitive restructuring benefit emotional wellbeing?
  • The role of herbal remedies in managing psychological distress.

Best Mental Health Research Topics

Are you looking for the very best mental health topics for research papers or projects? We’ve got you covered! Take a look at these amazing ideas to get inspired:

  • The need for social acceptance in treating psychological disorders.
  • How do friendships help in managing stress?
  • How can virtual reality be used in mental health care?
  • How does religion impact psychological well being?
  • How economic policies affect psychological stability?
  • Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on global mental health.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder in military personnel.
  • Cyberbullying and its effect on adolescent peace of mind.
  • Benefits and challenges of teletherapy in emotional stability recovery.
  • Understanding and managing self-harm behaviors.
  • Examining the need for mental health support at the workplace.
  • Exploring the relationship between sleep deprivation and mental health.
  • Negative impact of toxic relationships on emotional wellness.
  • Importance of creating a supportive environment for psychological well being.
  • Benefits of self-care for emotional wellness.

Controversial Mental Health Research Topics

The mental health research topics below are sure to spark some debate. If you’re browsing for debatable argumentative paper topics or project on mental health, take a look at these themes:

  • Investigating the role of propaganda in creating mental health stigmas.
  • Exploring the impact of false news and its influence on mental wellbeing.
  • The need for mental health awareness campaigns in the media.
  • Medical marijuana and emotional stability: beneficial or harmful?
  • Forced hospitalization in psychiatry: necessity or violation of rights?
  • Is suicide representation in media preventive or harmful?
  • The "Anti-Vax" Movement's impact on public mental health.
  • The use of electroconvulsive therapy in modern psychiatry.
  • Does ADHD overdiagnosis contribute to misunderstood child behavior?
  • Are personality disorders just extreme versions of normal personality traits?
  • Is there a connection between mental health and gun control laws?
  • The validity of self-diagnosis in mental health: empowering or harmful?
  • Controversy over the DSM-5's expanding definition of mental illness.
  • How does political instability affect emotional wellbeing?
  • Investigating the effectiveness of government policies in mental health care.

Research Questions About Mental Health

Mental health research questions are key in helping you focus on the right topics when writing a dissertation or any other capstone project. Here are a few examples to get started:

  • How do parenting styles affect children’s emotional stability?
  • How does a positive self-image contribute to mental health resilience?
  • Can a supportive community significantly mitigate the symptoms of mental disorders?
  • Is there a correlation between high academic pressure and mental health disorders in students?
  • How can workplace policies be improved to better support employee wellbeing?
  • How does exposure to nature influence mental well-being?
  • How do personal belief systems and religion influence attitudes towards psychiatric disorders?
  • Can implementing a regular digital detox improve the state of mind?
  • How do life-changing events, such as migration or job loss, impact our emotional health?
  • What role do hormones play in mood disorders?
  • What are the psychological effects of long-term unemployment?
  • How does grief affect mental health, and how can it be managed effectively?
  • How does living in an urban vs. rural environment impact emotional health?
  • How do microaggressions in daily life contribute to stress and mental health disorders?
  • What is the impact of gender identity and sexual orientation on emotional wellbeing?

>> View more: Medical Research Paper Topics

Mental Health Research Topic Ideas for Students

Covering a broad spectrum of themes, our list aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the multidimensional aspects of mental health. These mental health topics for students can foster critical thinking and bring about scholarly conversations.

Mental Health Research Topics for High School

Hover over these interesting mental health research topics for high school students to find a fitting idea.

  • The influence of social media on teen mental health.
  • How does school environment influence a student's state of mind?
  • The role of peer pressure in psychiatric issues among teens.
  • The psychological impact of body image and self-esteem issues.
  • Mental health implications of academic stress and burnout.
  • The role of counseling in schools for mental health support.
  • Understanding eating disorders in adolescence.
  • The impact of parental emotional stability on adolescents.
  • What are the most effective ways of reducing student stress and anxiety?
  • Can social media platforms be used to promote positive mental health messages?
  • How can parents identify childhood depression and anxiety in their children?
  • Enhancing social and emotional skills in high school students.
  • Mindfulness and stress reduction techniques for high school students.
  • How does physical activity impact mental health in teenagers?

Mental Health Research Topics for College Students

Take a look at this collection of research paper topics on mental health for college students to find the one that suits your needs.

  • The impact of chronic stress on physical and psychological health.
  • Addressing mental illness stigma among university students.
  • What are the most effective methods for reducing anxiety in college students?
  • Examining the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic interventions for mental health disorders.
  • Risk factors and triggers that contribute to depression in higher education settings.
  • Exploring the relationship between academic performance and psychological health.
  • The influence of online communication on student’s emotional wellbeing.
  • How can university professors promote mental health awareness among their students?
  • Benefits of cognitive behavior therapy for college students.
  • What are the most effective ways to prevent suicidal ideation in college students?
  • Role-playing games as a therapeutic approach to emotional disorders.
  • Intersectional approaches to mental health: gender, race and ethnicity.
  • The link between drug and alcohol abuse and psychiatric disorder.
  • Does cultural awareness influence the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders?
  • Investigating the role of technology in deteriorating mental health among young people.

Mental Health Research Topics and Ideas Worth Considering

Here, you'll find worthy research paper ideas on mental health focusing on different aspects. From understanding how our minds and bodies connect, to looking at the impact of society, and even studying new therapies, we've got a range of mental health research ideas for you.

Mental Illness Research Paper Topics

This selection covers an array of mental illness ideas focusing on various disorders, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. They are ideal for students and researchers looking to broaden their knowledge.

  • How complex is dissociative identity disorder and what factors contribute to its development?
  • What role does trauma play in the development of borderline personality disorder?
  • What are the implications of long-term antidepressant use in major depressive disorder?
  • How do psychiatric service dogs impact the management of post-traumatic stress disorder?
  • Which psychotherapeutic approaches are effective in managing schizophrenia?
  • Does eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) effectively treat trauma?
  • How does family therapy contribute to the management of anorexia nervosa?
  • What are the neuroscientific insights into bipolar disorder?
  • How do socioeconomic factors influence major depressive disorder?
  • What are the mechanisms behind selective mutism in children?
  • To what extent does genetics contribute to autism spectrum disorder?
  • Psychodynamics of narcissistic personality disorder.
  • Implications of stigma in the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia.
  • Is there a link between childhood abuse and dissociative disorders that warrants exploration?
  • What impact does neurofeedback training have on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?

Research Topics on Mental Health Counseling

This collection of research topics for mental health focuses on the various aspects of counseling, from psychological theories to practical approaches.

  • How important is cultural sensitivity in therapy and its impact on treatment outcomes?
  • What ethical dilemmas arise in therapy, particularly concerning privacy and confidentiality?
  • What is the role of positive psychology in therapeutic practices and its impact on well-being?
  • Does therapists' mental health influence the outcomes of their clients?
  • What are the methods and benefits of group therapy?
  • Can cognitive behavioral therapy effectively manage panic disorders?
  • Why is self-care important for therapists and how does it impact their work?
  • How does counselor bias affect mental health therapy outcomes?
  • The use of dialectical behavior therapy in addressing emotional instability.
  • How does play therapy support children's mental health?
  • What are the unique challenges in providing therapy for veterans with PTSD?
  • Can family systems therapy serve as a panacea for family-related issues?
  • How effective is grief counseling in helping individuals cope with bereavement?
  • What is the power of storytelling in emotional health care and its impact?
  • How effective is solution-focused brief therapy in achieving quick emotional recovery?

Young Mothers Mental Health Research Topics

This selection of research ideas about mental health covers how young mothers navigate the physical, psychological and social changes.

  • What are the unique mental health challenges faced by teenage mothers?
  • How does postpartum depression impact parenting and mother-child bond?
  • The effects of poverty on young maternal mental health.
  • Examining the effects of early adolescent pregnancy on social relationships.
  • What coping strategies can be used to address stress among young mothers?
  • Can breastfeeding serve as a protective factor against postpartum depression?
  • The correlation between exercise and mental health among young mothers.
  • What role do support networks play in assisting young mothers to access mental health services?
  • How does becoming a mother affect the identity of teenage girls?
  • Exploring the link between single parenthood and adolescent mental health.
  • What psychological interventions are effective in improving the mental health of young mothers?
  • What role does childcare play in supporting mental wellbeing among young mothers
  • Investigating the link between socioeconomic status and maternal depression among teenage mothers.
  • What role does health education play in improving the mental health of young mothers?
  • Are there any long-term effects of postpartum depression on child development?

Research Topics in Mental Health Nursing

Are you looking for good research topics on mental health nursing? Don't miss out on these ideas. Below you will find an idea or two in this direction.

  • How does nurse-patient relationships impact mental health recovery?
  • What is the role of psychiatric nurses in de-escalating crisis situations?
  • Ethical dilemmas faced by mental health nurses.
  • Stress and burnout among mental health nurses: Causes and coping strategies.
  • Are mental health nursing interventions effective for patients with PTSD?
  • Psychiatric nurses' role in managing patients with dual diagnosis.
  • Enhancing communication skills in mental health nursing.
  • Mental health nursing practices in pediatric care.
  • The role of nurses in suicide prevention and postvention.
  • Challenges in providing culturally sensitive care in mental health nursing.
  • The impact of mental health nurses in reducing hospital readmission rates.
  • The integration of telepsychiatry into nursing practice.
  • Training needs and professional development for nurses.
  • The efficacy of trauma-informed care in nursing.
  • Transition challenges for mental health nurses from inpatient to community care.

>> Read more: Nursing Research Topics

Mental Health Law Research Topics

Are you searching for some interesting research topics in mental health law? Here are a few ideas that could help you narrow down your focus.

  • The implications of involuntary commitment laws on civil rights.
  • Should mental health treatment be legally mandated for those deemed dangerous?
  • What are the legal safeguards when interpreting informed consent in psychiatric hospitals?
  • How can legal systems address violence risk assessment and management?
  • Exploring the ethical dilemmas behind forced medication in a psychiatric hospital.
  • Should involuntary commitment laws be amended to include substance use disorders?
  • What role does the Mental Health Act play in safeguarding the rights of patients?
  • Can therapeutic jurisprudence provide a viable solution for mental health law reform?
  • The implications of the Mental Capacity Act on decision-making and autonomy.
  • Analysis of consent capacity assessments in mental health law.
  • The role of civil commitment laws in improving access to treatment and care.
  • Mental health law provisions for those with chronic or terminal illnesses.
  • How does criminal justice reform help reduce the number of mentally ill inmates?
  • What are the legal considerations for ensuring patient confidentiality in mental health?
  • Does the Mental Health Act adequately protect the rights of young adults?

>> Read more: Legal Research Paper Topics

Mental Health Research Topics on Behavioral Issues

If you're browsing for mental health topics to research behavioral issues, here are a few titles that could help get you started.

  • The role of emotions in decision-making and behavior.
  • Exploring the link between impulsivity and depression.
  • How does stress-coping impact emotion regulation abilities?
  • Examining the impact of cognitive distortions on behavioral responses.
  • The role of metacognition in addressing anxiety and depression.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of anger management interventions.
  • The impact of social media on self-esteem and behavior.
  • How can parents encourage healthy coping strategies in children?
  • Examining the role of reward systems for enhancing motivation.
  • How do family dynamics influence behavior problems?
  • The implications of trauma on behavior and emotion regulation.
  • Exploring the link between sleep habits and behavior problems.
  • Can mindfulness be an effective tool to reduce aggressive behavior?
  • What strategies can be used to manage impulsivity?
  • Can virtual reality serve as a cognitive-behavioral therapy tool?

Extra Mental Health Research Topics

The following list features unique research topic ideas on mental health that are less explored but equally important. Whether you're seasoned or a beginner in mental health research, these ideas are sure to spark engaging conversations and deepen your understanding. So, let's dive in and explore these intriguing aspects in this direction together.

Psychiatry Research Topics

The collection below spotlights a wide range of subjects, from understanding psychiatric disorders to exploring advanced treatment methods. It's an excellent resource for anyone interested in diving deeper into this intriguing medical specialty. Get ready to immerse yourself in these psychiatric research topics and contribute to the field.

  • The effects of combining psychotherapy with medication for the treatment of depression.
  • Exploring the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating bipolar disorder.
  • What role do genetics play in the development of schizophrenia?
  • Examining the long-term impact of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
  • The use of psychedelic drugs in the treatment of mental illness.
  • Can mindfulness be an effective tool for treating anxiety?
  • The efficacy of virtual reality (VR) therapy in treating phobias.
  • What role do diet and nutrition play in managing psychiatric disorders?
  • The use of telepsychiatry to improve access to care.
  • How do brain activity and behavior interact in psychiatric disorders?
  • Exploring the role of technology in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.
  • What is the role of childcare in supporting mental wellbeing among young mothers?
  • How does early childhood development influence mental health later in life?
  • The importance of social connectedness for psychological well being.
  • Exploring how cultural beliefs and practices influence mental health.

>> Read more: Psychology Research Paper Topics

Research Topics on Mental Disorder

This list of research topics regarding mental health disorders provides an exciting opportunity to explore the underlying causes, symptoms, and treatments for a wide range of psychological issues. Let's take a closer look at these compelling research topics in mental health.

  • What are the risk factors and warning signs of bipolar disorder?
  • How can family therapy be used to support children with autism?
  • Exploring differences in diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia between men and women.
  • The role of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Examining the impact of trauma on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • What role do environmental factors play in determining vulnerability to depression?
  • Neuroimaging research on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
  • Can virtual reality (VR) therapy be used to treat anxiety disorders?
  • Identifying the most effective psychotherapeutic approaches for treating borderline personality disorder.
  • Analysis of the role of medication in treating eating disorders.
  • The effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in managing gambling addiction.
  • Exploring the use of music therapy for symptoms of psychosis.
  • What are the best practices for supporting individuals with dissociative identity disorder?
  • What role does lifestyle play in managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
  • The potential of exercise and nutrition in preventing dementia.

Bottom Line on Research Topics About Mental Health

We did our best to provide you with exciting mental health research topics. No matter which topic you choose, make sure it resonates with your interests and provides new insights. Once you select a fitting idea, make sure to check how to write a research paper to nail your task.

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Mental Health Research Paper Topics

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Exploring the wide array of mental health research paper topics can be an enriching experience for students studying health sciences. This subject matter is not only relevant but is also critically important in today’s context, given the rising prevalence of mental health issues in society. In this guide, we will navigate through a comprehensive list of potential topics, categorized into ten major areas of mental health. Additionally, this page provides expert advice on how to choose and delve into these topics effectively, as well as guidance on constructing a well-written mental health research paper. As a supplementary service, we also present iResearchNet’s professional writing offerings. iResearchNet specializes in providing students with high-quality, custom-written research papers on any topic of their choice. With a potent combination of expert degree-holding writers, meticulous research, and adherence to the highest standards of academic integrity, iResearchNet offers unparalleled support to students aiming to excel in their academic endeavors.

100 Mental Health Research Paper Topics

Embarking on the exploration of mental health research paper topics presents an incredible opportunity to delve into diverse areas of study and reveal intriguing insights. From understanding the human psyche to unraveling the intricate workings of various mental disorders, this domain offers a wide array of research avenues. In this section, we present a comprehensive list of 100 mental health research paper topics, neatly organized into ten major categories. This catalog is designed to cater to different interests, offer fresh perspectives, and stimulate thought-provoking discussions.

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  • The impact of social media on mental health
  • The psychological effects of bullying
  • Role of personality traits in mental health
  • Nature vs. nurture debate in psychology
  • Psychological effects of long-term stress
  • The role of psychology in pain management
  • The impact of sleep disorders on mental health
  • Effects of meditation on mental health
  • The psychology of decision-making
  • Understanding cognitive biases
  • Impact of parenting styles on children’s mental health
  • Childhood trauma and its long-term effects
  • Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • The role of school environments in child mental health
  • Adolescent depression: Causes and effects
  • The impact of divorce on children
  • Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Eating disorders in adolescents
  • Impact of physical activity on children’s mental health
  • Childhood anxiety disorders
  • Impacts of work stress on mental health
  • Understanding Bipolar Disorder
  • Adult PTSD and its management
  • Role of exercise in mental health maintenance
  • The link between adult obesity and mental health
  • Alcoholism and its mental health implications
  • Understanding Schizophrenia
  • Mental health impacts of sexual assault
  • The effect of childlessness on mental health
  • The role of religion and spirituality in mental health
  • Mental health issues in aging population
  • Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Role of family in elder mental health
  • Depression in the elderly
  • Cognitive decline in aging: Prevention and management
  • The impact of retirement on mental health
  • Mental health effects of elder abuse
  • The role of social interactions in elder mental health
  • Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia and mental health
  • Global mental health policies: A comparative analysis
  • Role of mental health legislation in patient rights
  • Impact of health insurance policies on mental health services
  • Mental health in prisons: Policy implications
  • The impact of mental health stigma on policy making
  • Mental health policies in schools
  • Workplace mental health policies
  • Mental health parity laws
  • Policy implications of mental health in homelessness
  • Impact of COVID-19 on mental health policies
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in mental health
  • Role of medication in mental health treatment
  • Efficacy of group therapy in mental health
  • Role of art therapy in mental health treatment
  • Understanding Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • The role of lifestyle changes in mental health treatment
  • Psychodynamic therapy in mental health
  • The use of virtual reality in mental health treatment
  • Mindfulness-based therapies in mental health
  • Role of family therapy in mental health treatment
  • Understanding personality disorders
  • The psychopathology of addiction
  • Eating disorders: Causes, impacts, and treatments
  • Psychopathology of self-harm behaviors
  • Understanding anxiety disorders
  • The psychopathology of suicidal behavior
  • Psychopathology of mood disorders
  • Understanding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • The psychopathology of paranoia and delusional disorders
  • Impact of traumatic experiences on psychopathology
  • Impact of job satisfaction on mental health
  • Role of organizational culture in employee mental health
  • Mental health implications of job burnout
  • The role of work-life balance in mental health
  • Understanding the concept of ‘Blue Monday’
  • Mental health implications of remote work
  • The role of employee assistance programs in mental health
  • Mental health effects of workplace harassment
  • Impact of job insecurity on mental health
  • The role of workplace wellness programs in mental health
  • Cross-cultural perspectives on mental health
  • The impact of cultural stigma on mental health outcomes
  • Cultural variations in mental health treatments
  • Understanding mental health in indigenous populations
  • Mental health impacts of acculturation
  • The role of cultural competence in mental health services
  • Culture-bound syndromes
  • Impact of cultural beliefs on mental health
  • Role of language in mental health contexts
  • Cross-cultural communication in mental health care
  • Role of schools in mental health education
  • Impact of mental health literacy on outcomes
  • The role of media in mental health education
  • Mental health promotion in communities
  • Importance of mental health education in medical curricula
  • The role of peer educators in mental health promotion
  • Impact of stigma reduction campaigns on mental health
  • The role of mental health first aid
  • The use of technology in mental health education
  • Mental health education for parents

As we culminate this extensive list of mental health research paper topics, it is essential to remember that each topic presents a unique chance to broaden our understanding of mental health and contribute to this important field. As aspiring health science students, you have the power to make a difference in enhancing mental health awareness and outcomes. As you traverse this exciting journey, always remember that research is not merely a pursuit of knowledge, but a powerful tool for instigating change. Embrace the opportunity with curiosity, passion, and determination, and let your research pave the way for a mentally healthier world.

Choosing Mental Health Research Paper Topics

Choosing a compelling and relevant mental health research paper topic is crucial for creating a meaningful and impactful study. To assist you in this process, we have gathered expert advice from professionals in the field of mental health research. Consider the following ten tips to guide you in selecting an engaging and significant topic for your research:

  • Identify Current Mental Health Issues : Stay updated on the latest developments and trends in mental health research. Explore current issues, emerging challenges, and unanswered questions within the field. This will help you select a topic that is relevant, timely, and has the potential for making a meaningful contribution.
  • Reflect on Personal Interests : Consider your own passions and interests within the broad field of mental health. Reflect on the areas that resonate with you the most. Researching a topic that you are genuinely interested in will fuel your motivation and dedication throughout the research process.
  • Consult Academic Journals and Publications : Explore reputable academic journals and publications dedicated to mental health research. Reading articles and studies within your area of interest will provide insights into existing research gaps, ongoing debates, and potential areas for further exploration.
  • Analyze Existing Literature : Conduct a thorough literature review to identify key themes, theories, and research findings in your chosen area of mental health. Understanding the current body of knowledge will help you narrow down your research focus and identify research gaps that need to be addressed.
  • Consider the Population of Interest : Mental health research encompasses various populations, such as children, adolescents, adults, or specific demographic groups. Consider the population you want to focus on and explore their unique mental health challenges, interventions, or outcomes.
  • Examine Cultural and Social Factors : Mental health is influenced by cultural and social factors. Investigate how cultural norms, societal expectations, or environmental contexts impact mental health outcomes. Understanding these factors will add depth and richness to your research.
  • Think Interdisciplinary : Mental health is a multidisciplinary field that intersects with psychology, sociology, neuroscience, public health, and more. Consider integrating perspectives from other disciplines to gain a comprehensive understanding of mental health issues and approaches to addressing them.
  • Explore Innovative Interventions and Technologies : Investigate novel interventions, therapies, or technologies that are emerging in the field of mental health. Exploring innovative approaches can lead to exciting research opportunities and contribute to advancements in mental health care.
  • Address Stigmatized or Understudied Topics : Mental health encompasses a wide range of conditions and experiences, some of which may be stigmatized or underrepresented in research. Consider topics that address the mental health needs of marginalized populations or shed light on less-discussed mental health conditions.
  • Seek Guidance and Collaboration : Consult with your professors, mentors, or peers who specialize in mental health research. Seek their guidance in selecting a research topic and consider opportunities for collaboration. Collaborative research can provide valuable insights and support throughout the research process.

By incorporating these expert tips into your topic selection process, you can choose a mental health research paper topic that is not only academically rigorous but also personally meaningful. Remember to strike a balance between your interests, the existing body of knowledge, and the potential for making a significant impact in the field of mental health research. With a well-chosen topic, you will embark on a rewarding research journey that contributes to the understanding and well-being of individuals with mental health concerns.

How to Write a Mental Health Research Paper

Writing a mental health research paper requires careful planning, critical thinking, and effective communication of your findings. To help you navigate this process successfully, we have compiled ten essential tips to guide you in crafting a well-structured and impactful paper:

  • Define Your Research Question : Begin by clearly defining your research question or objective. This will serve as the foundation for your paper, guiding your literature review, methodology, and analysis.
  • Conduct a Thorough Literature Review : Familiarize yourself with existing research and theories related to your topic through a comprehensive literature review. This will help you identify gaps in the literature, build on existing knowledge, and situate your research within the broader context of mental health.
  • Select an Appropriate Methodology : Choose a research methodology that aligns with your research question and objectives. Consider whether qualitative, quantitative, or mixed-method approaches are best suited for your study. Justify your choice and outline your methodology clearly.
  • Ethical Considerations : Ensure that your research adheres to ethical guidelines and protects the rights and well-being of participants. Obtain necessary approvals from ethical review boards and maintain confidentiality and anonymity when reporting your findings.
  • Collect and Analyze Data : Collect data using appropriate methods, whether through surveys, interviews, observations, or existing datasets. Analyze your data using sound statistical techniques or qualitative analysis methods, depending on your research design.
  • Structure Your Paper : Organize your mental health research paper into sections, including an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Use headings and subheadings to clearly delineate each section and guide the reader through your paper.
  • Craft a Compelling Introduction : Begin your paper with an engaging introduction that captures the reader’s attention and provides the necessary background information. Clearly state your research question, the significance of your study, and the gaps you aim to address.
  • Interpret Your Findings : In the results section, present your findings objectively and concisely. Use tables, graphs, or figures to enhance clarity and provide a comprehensive overview of your results. Interpret your findings in light of your research question and existing literature.
  • Engage in a Thoughtful Discussion : In the discussion section, critically analyze and interpret your results, discussing their implications for theory, practice, and future research. Compare your findings with previous studies and identify areas of agreement or divergence.
  • Conclude with Key Takeaways : Summarize your main findings, restate the significance of your study, and discuss potential avenues for further research. Highlight the contributions your research makes to the field of mental health and offer practical implications for mental health professionals or policymakers.

Additional Tips:

  • Use clear and concise language, avoiding jargon whenever possible. Define any technical terms or acronyms for clarity.
  • Properly cite all sources using a recognized citation style, such as APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, or Harvard, to give credit to the original authors and avoid plagiarism.
  • Seek feedback from professors, mentors, or peers to refine your writing and ensure the clarity and coherence of your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper multiple times to polish your arguments, improve sentence structure, and eliminate grammatical errors.

By following these tips, you can confidently navigate the process of writing a mental health research paper. Remember to maintain a logical flow, support your arguments with evidence, and engage in critical analysis to contribute to the understanding and advancement of mental health research.

iResearchNet’s Custom Writing Services

At iResearchNet, we understand the unique challenges that students face when writing a mental health research paper. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive writing services that cater specifically to the needs of health sciences students like you. Here are thirteen features that set us apart and ensure your research paper’s success:

  • Expert Degree-Holding Writers : Our team of writers consists of highly qualified professionals with advanced degrees in mental health and related fields. They have the expertise and knowledge necessary to tackle complex research topics and produce high-quality papers.
  • Custom Written Works : We believe in originality and customization. Each mental health research paper we deliver is custom-written from scratch to meet your specific requirements and adhere to your instructions. We guarantee plagiarism-free and unique content.
  • In-Depth Research : Our writers conduct thorough and in-depth research on your chosen mental health topic to ensure the accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness of your paper. They have access to a vast array of scholarly resources and stay updated on the latest research in the field.
  • Custom Formatting : We understand the importance of following specific formatting styles. Whether you require APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, or Harvard formatting, our writers are well-versed in these styles and will ensure that your paper meets the required standards.
  • Top Quality Assurance : We have a stringent quality assurance process in place to guarantee the highest standards of excellence. Our dedicated team of editors and proofreaders carefully review each mental health research paper for grammar, clarity, coherence, and adherence to academic standards.
  • Customized Solutions : We recognize that every mental health research paper is unique. Our services are tailored to your specific needs, ensuring that we address your research question, objectives, and desired outcomes. We work closely with you to customize our approach and deliver a paper that aligns with your academic goals.
  • Flexible Pricing : We understand the financial constraints that students face. Our pricing options are designed to be flexible and affordable while maintaining the quality of our services. We offer competitive rates and transparent pricing, ensuring that you receive value for your investment.
  • Short Deadlines : We are equipped to handle urgent requests and short deadlines. If you require your mental health research paper in a tight timeframe, we can accommodate deadlines as short as three hours without compromising on quality or accuracy.
  • Timely Delivery : We recognize the importance of meeting deadlines. Our writers and support staff are committed to delivering your mental health research paper on time, allowing you sufficient time for review and any necessary revisions.
  • 24/7 Support : We provide round-the-clock customer support to address any inquiries, concerns, or issues you may have. Our dedicated support team is available to assist you at any stage of the writing process, ensuring a seamless and positive experience.
  • Absolute Privacy : We prioritize the confidentiality and privacy of our clients. Rest assured that any personal information shared with us will be handled with the utmost care and will remain strictly confidential.
  • Easy Order Tracking : Our user-friendly platform allows you to easily track the progress of your mental health research paper. You can communicate directly with your assigned writer, exchange messages, provide additional instructions, and stay informed about the status of your order.
  • Money Back Guarantee : We are confident in the quality of our services. In the rare event that you are not satisfied with the final product, we offer a money-back guarantee to ensure your complete satisfaction and peace of mind.

With iResearchNet’s writing services, you can trust that your mental health research paper is in capable hands. Our team of experts is dedicated to delivering custom-written papers that meet your academic requirements and exceed your expectations. Let us be your partner in achieving excellence in your mental health research endeavors.

Unlock Your Research Potential with iResearchNet

Are you a health sciences student working on a mental health research paper and seeking professional assistance to elevate your work? Look no further. iResearchNet is your trusted partner in achieving success in your academic journey. We understand the complexities and challenges you face in conducting rigorous research and producing a compelling paper. Our comprehensive writing services are tailored specifically to your needs, offering you the expertise and support required to excel in your mental health research.

By choosing iResearchNet, you gain access to a team of highly qualified writers who specialize in mental health and related disciplines. Our writers possess extensive knowledge and experience in the field, ensuring that your research paper is crafted with precision, accuracy, and a deep understanding of the subject matter. We are committed to delivering custom-written papers that reflect your unique research objectives and contribute to the advancement of mental health knowledge.

With iResearchNet, you can expect a seamless and enriching experience throughout your research journey. Our user-friendly platform enables you to easily communicate with your assigned writer, providing an opportunity for collaboration and ensuring that your paper is tailored to your specific requirements. Our dedicated customer support team is available 24/7 to address any inquiries or concerns you may have, providing you with the guidance and assistance you need at every step.

At iResearchNet, we take pride in our commitment to excellence. We strive to exceed your expectations by delivering high-quality, custom-written mental health research papers that showcase your academic prowess. Our writers conduct in-depth research, adhere to strict academic standards, and ensure that your paper is free from plagiarism. We offer timely delivery, flexible pricing options, and a money-back guarantee to provide you with peace of mind.

Choose iResearchNet as your trusted partner in your mental health research journey. Our writing services will empower you to produce a research paper that stands out, contributes to the field of mental health, and earns you the recognition you deserve. Take the next step towards academic success and unlock your research potential by placing your trust in iResearchNet. Together, let’s make a difference in the field of mental health research.

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Research Topics & Ideas: Mental Health

100+ Mental Health Research Topic Ideas To Fast-Track Your Project

If you’re just starting out exploring mental health topics for your dissertation, thesis or research project, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll help kickstart your research topic ideation process by providing a hearty list of mental health-related research topics and ideas.

PS – This is just the start…

We know it’s exciting to run through a list of research topics, but please keep in mind that this list is just a starting point . To develop a suitable education-related research topic, you’ll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap , and a viable plan of action to fill that gap.

If this sounds foreign to you, check out our free research topic webinar that explores how to find and refine a high-quality research topic, from scratch. Alternatively, if you’d like hands-on help, consider our 1-on-1 coaching service .

Overview: Mental Health Topic Ideas

  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance-related disorders

Research topic idea mega list

Mood Disorders

Research in mood disorders can help understand their causes and improve treatment methods. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • The impact of genetics on the susceptibility to depression
  • Efficacy of antidepressants vs. cognitive behavioural therapy
  • The role of gut microbiota in mood regulation
  • Cultural variations in the experience and diagnosis of bipolar disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Environmental factors and treatment
  • The link between depression and chronic illnesses
  • Exercise as an adjunct treatment for mood disorders
  • Hormonal changes and mood swings in postpartum women
  • Stigma around mood disorders in the workplace
  • Suicidal tendencies among patients with severe mood disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Research topics in this category can potentially explore the triggers, coping mechanisms, or treatment efficacy for anxiety disorders.

  • The relationship between social media and anxiety
  • Exposure therapy effectiveness in treating phobias
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder in children: Early signs and interventions
  • The role of mindfulness in treating anxiety
  • Genetics and heritability of anxiety disorders
  • The link between anxiety disorders and heart disease
  • Anxiety prevalence in LGBTQ+ communities
  • Caffeine consumption and its impact on anxiety levels
  • The economic cost of untreated anxiety disorders
  • Virtual Reality as a treatment method for anxiety disorders

Psychotic Disorders

Within this space, your research topic could potentially aim to investigate the underlying factors and treatment possibilities for psychotic disorders.

  • Early signs and interventions in adolescent psychosis
  • Brain imaging techniques for diagnosing psychotic disorders
  • The efficacy of antipsychotic medication
  • The role of family history in psychotic disorders
  • Misdiagnosis and delayed treatment of psychotic disorders
  • Co-morbidity of psychotic and mood disorders
  • The relationship between substance abuse and psychotic disorders
  • Art therapy as a treatment for schizophrenia
  • Public perception and stigma around psychotic disorders
  • Hospital vs. community-based care for psychotic disorders

Research Topic Kickstarter - Need Help Finding A Research Topic?

Personality Disorders

Research topics within in this area could delve into the identification, management, and social implications of personality disorders.

  • Long-term outcomes of borderline personality disorder
  • Antisocial personality disorder and criminal behaviour
  • The role of early life experiences in developing personality disorders
  • Narcissistic personality disorder in corporate leaders
  • Gender differences in personality disorders
  • Diagnosis challenges for Cluster A personality disorders
  • Emotional intelligence and its role in treating personality disorders
  • Psychotherapy methods for treating personality disorders
  • Personality disorders in the elderly population
  • Stigma and misconceptions about personality disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

Within this space, research topics could focus on the causes, symptoms, or treatment of disorders like OCD and hoarding.

  • OCD and its relationship with anxiety disorders
  • Cognitive mechanisms behind hoarding behaviour
  • Deep Brain Stimulation as a treatment for severe OCD
  • The impact of OCD on academic performance in students
  • Role of family and social networks in treating OCD
  • Alternative treatments for hoarding disorder
  • Childhood onset OCD: Diagnosis and treatment
  • OCD and religious obsessions
  • The impact of OCD on family dynamics
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Causes and treatment

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Research topics in this area could explore the triggers, symptoms, and treatments for PTSD. Here are some thought starters to get you moving.

  • PTSD in military veterans: Coping mechanisms and treatment
  • Childhood trauma and adult onset PTSD
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) efficacy
  • Role of emotional support animals in treating PTSD
  • Gender differences in PTSD occurrence and treatment
  • Effectiveness of group therapy for PTSD patients
  • PTSD and substance abuse: A dual diagnosis
  • First responders and rates of PTSD
  • Domestic violence as a cause of PTSD
  • The neurobiology of PTSD

Free Webinar: How To Find A Dissertation Research Topic

Neurodevelopmental Disorders

This category of mental health aims to better understand disorders like Autism and ADHD and their impact on day-to-day life.

  • Early diagnosis and interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • ADHD medication and its impact on academic performance
  • Parental coping strategies for children with neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Autism and gender: Diagnosis disparities
  • The role of diet in managing ADHD symptoms
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders in the criminal justice system
  • Genetic factors influencing Autism
  • ADHD and its relationship with sleep disorders
  • Educational adaptations for children with neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders and stigma in schools

Eating Disorders

Research topics within this space can explore the psychological, social, and biological aspects of eating disorders.

  • The role of social media in promoting eating disorders
  • Family dynamics and their impact on anorexia
  • Biological basis of binge-eating disorder
  • Treatment outcomes for bulimia nervosa
  • Eating disorders in athletes
  • Media portrayal of body image and its impact
  • Eating disorders and gender: Are men underdiagnosed?
  • Cultural variations in eating disorders
  • The relationship between obesity and eating disorders
  • Eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ community

Substance-Related Disorders

Research topics in this category can focus on addiction mechanisms, treatment options, and social implications.

  • Efficacy of rehabilitation centres for alcohol addiction
  • The role of genetics in substance abuse
  • Substance abuse and its impact on family dynamics
  • Prescription drug abuse among the elderly
  • Legalisation of marijuana and its impact on substance abuse rates
  • Alcoholism and its relationship with liver diseases
  • Opioid crisis: Causes and solutions
  • Substance abuse education in schools: Is it effective?
  • Harm reduction strategies for drug abuse
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders in substance abusers

Research topic evaluator

Choosing A Research Topic

These research topic ideas we’ve covered here serve as thought starters to help you explore different areas within mental health. They are intentionally very broad and open-ended. By engaging with the currently literature in your field of interest, you’ll be able to narrow down your focus to a specific research gap .

It’s important to consider a variety of factors when choosing a topic for your dissertation or thesis . Think about the relevance of the topic, its feasibility , and the resources available to you, including time, data, and academic guidance. Also, consider your own interest and expertise in the subject, as this will sustain you through the research process.

Always consult with your academic advisor to ensure that your chosen topic aligns with academic requirements and offers a meaningful contribution to the field. If you need help choosing a topic, consider our private coaching service.

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Public health-related research topics and ideas

Good morning everyone. This are very patent topics for research in neuroscience. Thank you for guidance

Ygs

What if everything is important, original and intresting? as in Neuroscience. I find myself overwhelmd with tens of relveant areas and within each area many optional topics. I ask myself if importance (for example – able to treat people suffering) is more relevant than what intrest me, and on the other hand if what advance me further in my career should not also be a consideration?

MARTHA KALOMO

This information is really helpful and have learnt alot

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Crime, Mental Health, and the Law: A Psycho-Criminological Perspective

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Psychological criminology is regarded as the convergence of psychology and criminology, in which psychological criminology is concerned with the use of psychological knowledge to explain or describe, with the attempt to change, criminal behavior. This Research Topic focuses on the application of ...

Keywords : Forensic psychology, legal psychology, crime and delinquency, criminal behavior and the law, mental health and crime, forensic mental health, public health perspective of the crime, environmental conditions and crime, risk and protective factors of criminal behavior, crime prevention and intervention, offender rehabilitation, civil and criminal mental health law

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What the data says about abortion in the u.s..

Pew Research Center has conducted many surveys about abortion over the years, providing a lens into Americans’ views on whether the procedure should be legal, among a host of other questions.

In a  Center survey  conducted nearly a year after the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision that  ended the constitutional right to abortion , 62% of U.S. adults said the practice should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Another survey conducted a few months before the decision showed that relatively few Americans take an absolutist view on the issue .

Find answers to common questions about abortion in America, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute, which have tracked these patterns for several decades:

How many abortions are there in the U.S. each year?

How has the number of abortions in the u.s. changed over time, what is the abortion rate among women in the u.s. how has it changed over time, what are the most common types of abortion, how many abortion providers are there in the u.s., and how has that number changed, what percentage of abortions are for women who live in a different state from the abortion provider, what are the demographics of women who have had abortions, when during pregnancy do most abortions occur, how often are there medical complications from abortion.

This compilation of data on abortion in the United States draws mainly from two sources: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Guttmacher Institute, both of which have regularly compiled national abortion data for approximately half a century, and which collect their data in different ways.

The CDC data that is highlighted in this post comes from the agency’s “abortion surveillance” reports, which have been published annually since 1974 (and which have included data from 1969). Its figures from 1973 through 1996 include data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and New York City – 52 “reporting areas” in all. Since 1997, the CDC’s totals have lacked data from some states (most notably California) for the years that those states did not report data to the agency. The four reporting areas that did not submit data to the CDC in 2021 – California, Maryland, New Hampshire and New Jersey – accounted for approximately 25% of all legal induced abortions in the U.S. in 2020, according to Guttmacher’s data. Most states, though,  do  have data in the reports, and the figures for the vast majority of them came from each state’s central health agency, while for some states, the figures came from hospitals and other medical facilities.

Discussion of CDC abortion data involving women’s state of residence, marital status, race, ethnicity, age, abortion history and the number of previous live births excludes the low share of abortions where that information was not supplied. Read the methodology for the CDC’s latest abortion surveillance report , which includes data from 2021, for more details. Previous reports can be found at  stacks.cdc.gov  by entering “abortion surveillance” into the search box.

For the numbers of deaths caused by induced abortions in 1963 and 1965, this analysis looks at reports by the then-U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, a precursor to the Department of Health and Human Services. In computing those figures, we excluded abortions listed in the report under the categories “spontaneous or unspecified” or as “other.” (“Spontaneous abortion” is another way of referring to miscarriages.)

Guttmacher data in this post comes from national surveys of abortion providers that Guttmacher has conducted 19 times since 1973. Guttmacher compiles its figures after contacting every known provider of abortions – clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices – in the country. It uses questionnaires and health department data, and it provides estimates for abortion providers that don’t respond to its inquiries. (In 2020, the last year for which it has released data on the number of abortions in the U.S., it used estimates for 12% of abortions.) For most of the 2000s, Guttmacher has conducted these national surveys every three years, each time getting abortion data for the prior two years. For each interim year, Guttmacher has calculated estimates based on trends from its own figures and from other data.

The latest full summary of Guttmacher data came in the institute’s report titled “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2020.” It includes figures for 2020 and 2019 and estimates for 2018. The report includes a methods section.

In addition, this post uses data from StatPearls, an online health care resource, on complications from abortion.

An exact answer is hard to come by. The CDC and the Guttmacher Institute have each tried to measure this for around half a century, but they use different methods and publish different figures.

The last year for which the CDC reported a yearly national total for abortions is 2021. It found there were 625,978 abortions in the District of Columbia and the 46 states with available data that year, up from 597,355 in those states and D.C. in 2020. The corresponding figure for 2019 was 607,720.

The last year for which Guttmacher reported a yearly national total was 2020. It said there were 930,160 abortions that year in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, compared with 916,460 in 2019.

  • How the CDC gets its data: It compiles figures that are voluntarily reported by states’ central health agencies, including separate figures for New York City and the District of Columbia. Its latest totals do not include figures from California, Maryland, New Hampshire or New Jersey, which did not report data to the CDC. ( Read the methodology from the latest CDC report .)
  • How Guttmacher gets its data: It compiles its figures after contacting every known abortion provider – clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices – in the country. It uses questionnaires and health department data, then provides estimates for abortion providers that don’t respond. Guttmacher’s figures are higher than the CDC’s in part because they include data (and in some instances, estimates) from all 50 states. ( Read the institute’s latest full report and methodology .)

While the Guttmacher Institute supports abortion rights, its empirical data on abortions in the U.S. has been widely cited by  groups  and  publications  across the political spectrum, including by a  number of those  that  disagree with its positions .

These estimates from Guttmacher and the CDC are results of multiyear efforts to collect data on abortion across the U.S. Last year, Guttmacher also began publishing less precise estimates every few months , based on a much smaller sample of providers.

The figures reported by these organizations include only legal induced abortions conducted by clinics, hospitals or physicians’ offices, or those that make use of abortion pills dispensed from certified facilities such as clinics or physicians’ offices. They do not account for the use of abortion pills that were obtained  outside of clinical settings .

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A line chart showing the changing number of legal abortions in the U.S. since the 1970s.

The annual number of U.S. abortions rose for years after Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure in 1973, reaching its highest levels around the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to both the CDC and Guttmacher. Since then, abortions have generally decreased at what a CDC analysis called  “a slow yet steady pace.”

Guttmacher says the number of abortions occurring in the U.S. in 2020 was 40% lower than it was in 1991. According to the CDC, the number was 36% lower in 2021 than in 1991, looking just at the District of Columbia and the 46 states that reported both of those years.

(The corresponding line graph shows the long-term trend in the number of legal abortions reported by both organizations. To allow for consistent comparisons over time, the CDC figures in the chart have been adjusted to ensure that the same states are counted from one year to the next. Using that approach, the CDC figure for 2021 is 622,108 legal abortions.)

There have been occasional breaks in this long-term pattern of decline – during the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, and then again in the late 2010s. The CDC reported modest 1% and 2% increases in abortions in 2018 and 2019, and then, after a 2% decrease in 2020, a 5% increase in 2021. Guttmacher reported an 8% increase over the three-year period from 2017 to 2020.

As noted above, these figures do not include abortions that use pills obtained outside of clinical settings.

Guttmacher says that in 2020 there were 14.4 abortions in the U.S. per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. Its data shows that the rate of abortions among women has generally been declining in the U.S. since 1981, when it reported there were 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women in that age range.

The CDC says that in 2021, there were 11.6 abortions in the U.S. per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. (That figure excludes data from California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Hampshire and New Jersey.) Like Guttmacher’s data, the CDC’s figures also suggest a general decline in the abortion rate over time. In 1980, when the CDC reported on all 50 states and D.C., it said there were 25 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44.

That said, both Guttmacher and the CDC say there were slight increases in the rate of abortions during the late 2010s and early 2020s. Guttmacher says the abortion rate per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 rose from 13.5 in 2017 to 14.4 in 2020. The CDC says it rose from 11.2 per 1,000 in 2017 to 11.4 in 2019, before falling back to 11.1 in 2020 and then rising again to 11.6 in 2021. (The CDC’s figures for those years exclude data from California, D.C., Maryland, New Hampshire and New Jersey.)

The CDC broadly divides abortions into two categories: surgical abortions and medication abortions, which involve pills. Since the Food and Drug Administration first approved abortion pills in 2000, their use has increased over time as a share of abortions nationally, according to both the CDC and Guttmacher.

The majority of abortions in the U.S. now involve pills, according to both the CDC and Guttmacher. The CDC says 56% of U.S. abortions in 2021 involved pills, up from 53% in 2020 and 44% in 2019. Its figures for 2021 include the District of Columbia and 44 states that provided this data; its figures for 2020 include D.C. and 44 states (though not all of the same states as in 2021), and its figures for 2019 include D.C. and 45 states.

Guttmacher, which measures this every three years, says 53% of U.S. abortions involved pills in 2020, up from 39% in 2017.

Two pills commonly used together for medication abortions are mifepristone, which, taken first, blocks hormones that support a pregnancy, and misoprostol, which then causes the uterus to empty. According to the FDA, medication abortions are safe  until 10 weeks into pregnancy.

Surgical abortions conducted  during the first trimester  of pregnancy typically use a suction process, while the relatively few surgical abortions that occur  during the second trimester  of a pregnancy typically use a process called dilation and evacuation, according to the UCLA School of Medicine.

In 2020, there were 1,603 facilities in the U.S. that provided abortions,  according to Guttmacher . This included 807 clinics, 530 hospitals and 266 physicians’ offices.

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing the total number of abortion providers down since 1982.

While clinics make up half of the facilities that provide abortions, they are the sites where the vast majority (96%) of abortions are administered, either through procedures or the distribution of pills, according to Guttmacher’s 2020 data. (This includes 54% of abortions that are administered at specialized abortion clinics and 43% at nonspecialized clinics.) Hospitals made up 33% of the facilities that provided abortions in 2020 but accounted for only 3% of abortions that year, while just 1% of abortions were conducted by physicians’ offices.

Looking just at clinics – that is, the total number of specialized abortion clinics and nonspecialized clinics in the U.S. – Guttmacher found the total virtually unchanged between 2017 (808 clinics) and 2020 (807 clinics). However, there were regional differences. In the Midwest, the number of clinics that provide abortions increased by 11% during those years, and in the West by 6%. The number of clinics  decreased  during those years by 9% in the Northeast and 3% in the South.

The total number of abortion providers has declined dramatically since the 1980s. In 1982, according to Guttmacher, there were 2,908 facilities providing abortions in the U.S., including 789 clinics, 1,405 hospitals and 714 physicians’ offices.

The CDC does not track the number of abortion providers.

In the District of Columbia and the 46 states that provided abortion and residency information to the CDC in 2021, 10.9% of all abortions were performed on women known to live outside the state where the abortion occurred – slightly higher than the percentage in 2020 (9.7%). That year, D.C. and 46 states (though not the same ones as in 2021) reported abortion and residency data. (The total number of abortions used in these calculations included figures for women with both known and unknown residential status.)

The share of reported abortions performed on women outside their state of residence was much higher before the 1973 Roe decision that stopped states from banning abortion. In 1972, 41% of all abortions in D.C. and the 20 states that provided this information to the CDC that year were performed on women outside their state of residence. In 1973, the corresponding figure was 21% in the District of Columbia and the 41 states that provided this information, and in 1974 it was 11% in D.C. and the 43 states that provided data.

In the District of Columbia and the 46 states that reported age data to  the CDC in 2021, the majority of women who had abortions (57%) were in their 20s, while about three-in-ten (31%) were in their 30s. Teens ages 13 to 19 accounted for 8% of those who had abortions, while women ages 40 to 44 accounted for about 4%.

The vast majority of women who had abortions in 2021 were unmarried (87%), while married women accounted for 13%, according to  the CDC , which had data on this from 37 states.

A pie chart showing that, in 2021, majority of abortions were for women who had never had one before.

In the District of Columbia, New York City (but not the rest of New York) and the 31 states that reported racial and ethnic data on abortion to  the CDC , 42% of all women who had abortions in 2021 were non-Hispanic Black, while 30% were non-Hispanic White, 22% were Hispanic and 6% were of other races.

Looking at abortion rates among those ages 15 to 44, there were 28.6 abortions per 1,000 non-Hispanic Black women in 2021; 12.3 abortions per 1,000 Hispanic women; 6.4 abortions per 1,000 non-Hispanic White women; and 9.2 abortions per 1,000 women of other races, the  CDC reported  from those same 31 states, D.C. and New York City.

For 57% of U.S. women who had induced abortions in 2021, it was the first time they had ever had one,  according to the CDC.  For nearly a quarter (24%), it was their second abortion. For 11% of women who had an abortion that year, it was their third, and for 8% it was their fourth or more. These CDC figures include data from 41 states and New York City, but not the rest of New York.

A bar chart showing that most U.S. abortions in 2021 were for women who had previously given birth.

Nearly four-in-ten women who had abortions in 2021 (39%) had no previous live births at the time they had an abortion,  according to the CDC . Almost a quarter (24%) of women who had abortions in 2021 had one previous live birth, 20% had two previous live births, 10% had three, and 7% had four or more previous live births. These CDC figures include data from 41 states and New York City, but not the rest of New York.

The vast majority of abortions occur during the first trimester of a pregnancy. In 2021, 93% of abortions occurred during the first trimester – that is, at or before 13 weeks of gestation,  according to the CDC . An additional 6% occurred between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, and about 1% were performed at 21 weeks or more of gestation. These CDC figures include data from 40 states and New York City, but not the rest of New York.

About 2% of all abortions in the U.S. involve some type of complication for the woman , according to an article in StatPearls, an online health care resource. “Most complications are considered minor such as pain, bleeding, infection and post-anesthesia complications,” according to the article.

The CDC calculates  case-fatality rates for women from induced abortions – that is, how many women die from abortion-related complications, for every 100,000 legal abortions that occur in the U.S .  The rate was lowest during the most recent period examined by the agency (2013 to 2020), when there were 0.45 deaths to women per 100,000 legal induced abortions. The case-fatality rate reported by the CDC was highest during the first period examined by the agency (1973 to 1977), when it was 2.09 deaths to women per 100,000 legal induced abortions. During the five-year periods in between, the figure ranged from 0.52 (from 1993 to 1997) to 0.78 (from 1978 to 1982).

The CDC calculates death rates by five-year and seven-year periods because of year-to-year fluctuation in the numbers and due to the relatively low number of women who die from legal induced abortions.

In 2020, the last year for which the CDC has information , six women in the U.S. died due to complications from induced abortions. Four women died in this way in 2019, two in 2018, and three in 2017. (These deaths all followed legal abortions.) Since 1990, the annual number of deaths among women due to legal induced abortion has ranged from two to 12.

The annual number of reported deaths from induced abortions (legal and illegal) tended to be higher in the 1980s, when it ranged from nine to 16, and from 1972 to 1979, when it ranged from 13 to 63. One driver of the decline was the drop in deaths from illegal abortions. There were 39 deaths from illegal abortions in 1972, the last full year before Roe v. Wade. The total fell to 19 in 1973 and to single digits or zero every year after that. (The number of deaths from legal abortions has also declined since then, though with some slight variation over time.)

The number of deaths from induced abortions was considerably higher in the 1960s than afterward. For instance, there were 119 deaths from induced abortions in  1963  and 99 in  1965 , according to reports by the then-U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, a precursor to the Department of Health and Human Services. The CDC is a division of Health and Human Services.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published May 27, 2022, and first updated June 24, 2022.

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Revolutionizing the Study of Mental Disorders

March 27, 2024 • Feature Story • 75th Anniversary

At a Glance:

  • The Research Domain Criteria framework (RDoC) was created in 2010 by the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • The framework encourages researchers to examine functional processes that are implemented by the brain on a continuum from normal to abnormal.
  • This way of researching mental disorders can help overcome inherent limitations in using all-or-nothing diagnostic systems for research.
  • Researchers worldwide have taken up the principles of RDoC.
  • The framework continues to evolve and update as new information becomes available.

President George H. W. Bush proclaimed  the 1990s “ The Decade of the Brain  ,” urging the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and others to raise awareness about the benefits of brain research.

“Over the years, our understanding of the brain—how it works, what goes wrong when it is injured or diseased—has increased dramatically. However, we still have much more to learn,” read the president’s proclamation. “The need for continued study of the brain is compelling: millions of Americans are affected each year by disorders of the brain…Today, these individuals and their families are justifiably hopeful, for a new era of discovery is dawning in brain research.”

An image showing an FMRI machine with computer screens showing brain images. Credit: iStock/patrickheagney.

Still, despite the explosion of new techniques and tools for studying the brain, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), many mental health researchers were growing frustrated that their field was not progressing as quickly as they had hoped.

For decades, researchers have studied mental disorders using diagnoses based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—a handbook that lists the symptoms of mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosing a person with a disorder. But, among many researchers, suspicion was growing that the system used to diagnose mental disorders may not be the best way to study them.

“There are many benefits to using the DSM in medical settings—it provides reliability and ease of diagnosis. It also provides a clear-cut diagnosis for patients, which can be necessary to request insurance-based coverage of healthcare or job- or school-based accommodations,” said Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., who headed the workgroup that developed NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria Initiative. “However, when used in research, this approach is not always ideal.”

Researchers would often test people with a specific diagnosed DSM disorder against those with a different disorder or with no disorder and see how the groups differed. However, different mental disorders can have similar symptoms, and people can be diagnosed with several different disorders simultaneously. In addition, a diagnosis using the DSM is all or none—patients either qualify for the disorder based on their number of symptoms, or they don’t. This black-and-white approach means there may be people who experience symptoms of a mental disorder but just miss the cutoff for diagnosis.

Dr. Cuthbert, who is now the senior member of the RDoC Unit which orchestrates RDoC work, stated that “Diagnostic systems are based on clinical signs and symptoms, but signs and symptoms can’t really tell us much about what is going on in the brain or the underlying causes of a disorder. With modern neuroscience, we were seeing that information on genetic, pathophysiological, and psychological causes of mental disorders did not line up well with the current diagnostic disorder categories, suggesting that there were central processes that relate to mental disorders that were not being reflected in DMS-based research.”

Road to evolution

Concerned about the limits of using the DSM for research, Dr. Cuthbert, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota at the time, approached Dr. Thomas Insel (then NIMH director) during a conference in the autumn of 2008. Dr. Cuthbert recalled saying, “I think it’s really important that we start looking at dimensions of functions related to mental disorders such as fear, working memory, and reward systems because we know that these dimensions cut across various disorders. I think NIMH really needs to think about mental disorders in this new way.”

Dr. Cuthbert didn’t know it then, but he was suggesting something similar to ideas that NIMH was considering. Just months earlier, Dr. Insel had spearheaded the inclusion of a goal in NIMH’s 2008 Strategic Plan for Research to “develop, for research purposes, new ways of classifying mental disorders based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures.”

Unaware of the new strategic goal, Dr. Cuthbert was surprised when Dr. Insel's senior advisor, Marlene Guzman, called a few weeks later to ask if he’d be interested in taking a sabbatical to help lead this new effort. Dr. Cuthbert soon transitioned into a full-time NIMH employee, joining the Institute at an exciting time to lead the development of what became known as the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Framework. The effort began in 2009 with the creation of an internal working group of interdisciplinary NIMH staff who identified core functional areas that could be used as examples of what research using this new conceptual framework looked like.

The workgroup members conceived a bold change in how investigators studied mental disorders.

“We wanted researchers to transition from looking at mental disorders as all or none diagnoses based on groups of symptoms. Instead, we wanted to encourage researchers to understand how basic core functions of the brain—like fear processing and reward processing—work at a biological and behavioral level and how these core functions contribute to mental disorders,” said Dr. Cuthbert.

This approach would incorporate biological and behavioral measures of mental disorders and examine processes that cut across and apply to all mental disorders. From Dr. Cuthbert’s standpoint, this could help remedy some of the frustrations mental health researchers were experiencing.

Around the same time the workgroup was sharing its plans and organizing the first steps, Sarah Morris, Ph.D., was a researcher focusing on schizophrenia at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. When she first read these papers, she wondered what this new approach would mean for her research, her grants, and her lab.

She also remembered feeling that this new approach reflected what she was seeing in her data.

“When I grouped my participants by those with and without schizophrenia, there was a lot of overlap, and there was a lot of variability across the board, and so it felt like RDoC provided the pathway forward to dissect that and sort it out,” said Dr. Morris.

Later that year, Dr. Morris joined NIMH and the RDoC workgroup, saying, “I was bumping up against a wall every day in my own work and in the data in front of me. And the idea that someone would give the field permission to try something new—that was super exciting.”

The five original RDoC domains of functioning were introduced to the broader scientific community in a series of articles published in 2010  .

To establish the new framework, the RDoC workgroup (including Drs. Cuthbert and Morris) began a series of workshops in 2011 to collect feedback from experts in various areas from the larger scientific community. Five workshops were held over the next two years, each with a different broad domain of functioning based upon prior basic behavioral neuroscience. The five domains were called:

  • Negative valence (which included processes related to things like fear, threat, and loss)
  • Positive valence (which included processes related to working for rewards and appreciating rewards)
  • Cognitive processes
  • Social processes
  • Arousal and regulation processes (including arousal systems for the body and sleep).

At each workshop, experts defined several specific functions, termed constructs, that fell within the domain of interest. For instance, constructs in the cognitive processes domain included attention, memory, cognitive control, and others.

The result of these feedback sessions was a framework that described mental disorders as the interaction between different functional processes—processes that could occur on a continuum from normal to abnormal. Researchers could measure these functional processes in a variety of complementary ways—for example, by looking at genes associated with these processes, the brain circuits that implement these processes, tests or observations of behaviors that represent these functional processes, and what patients report about their concerns. Also included in the framework was an understanding that functional processes associated with mental disorders are impacted and altered by the environment and a person’s developmental stage.

Preserving momentum

An image depicting the RDoC Framework that includes four overlapping circles (titled: Lifespan, Domains, Units of Analysis, and Environment).

Over time, the Framework continued evolving and adapting to the changing science. In 2018, a sixth functional area called sensorimotor processes was added to the Framework, and in 2019, a workshop was held to better incorporate developmental and environmental processes into the framework.;

Since its creation, the use of RDoC principles in mental health research has spread across the U.S. and the rest of the world. For example, the Psychiatric Ratings using Intermediate Stratified Markers project (PRISM)   , which receives funding from the European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative, is seeking to link biological markers of social withdrawal with clinical diagnoses using RDoC-style principles. Similarly, the Roadmap for Mental Health Research in Europe (ROAMER)   project by the European Commission sought to integrate mental health research across Europe using principles similar to those in the RDoC Framework.;

Dr. Morris, who has acceded to the Head of the RDoC Unit, commented: “The fact that investigators and science funders outside the United States are also pursuing similar approaches gives me confidence that we’ve been on the right pathway. I just think that this has got to be how nature works and that we are in better alignment with the basic fundamental processes that are of interest to understanding mental disorders.”

The RDoC framework will continue to adapt and change with emerging science to remain relevant as a resource for researchers now and in the future. For instance, NIMH continues to work toward the development and optimization of tools to assess RDoC constructs and supports data-driven efforts to measure function within and across domains.

“For the millions of people impacted by mental disorders, research means hope. The RDoC framework helps us study mental disorders in a different way and has already driven considerable change in the field over the past decade,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIMH. “We hope this and other innovative approaches will continue to accelerate research progress, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.”

Publications

Cuthbert, B. N., & Insel, T. R. (2013). Toward the future of psychiatric diagnosis: The seven pillars of RDoC. BMC Medicine , 11 , 126. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-11-126  

Cuthbert B. N. (2014). Translating intermediate phenotypes to psychopathology: The NIMH Research Domain Criteria. Psychophysiology , 51 (12), 1205–1206. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12342  

Cuthbert, B., & Insel, T. (2010). The data of diagnosis: New approaches to psychiatric classification. Psychiatry , 73 (4), 311–314. https://doi.org/10.1521/psyc.2010.73.4.311  

Cuthbert, B. N., & Kozak, M. J. (2013). Constructing constructs for psychopathology: The NIMH research domain criteria. Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 122 (3), 928–937. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034028  

Garvey, M. A., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2017). Developing a motor systems domain for the NIMH RDoC program.  Schizophrenia Bulletin , 43 (5), 935–936. https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbx095  

Insel, T. (2013). Transforming diagnosis . http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

Kozak, M. J., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2016). The NIMH Research Domain Criteria initiative: Background, issues, and pragmatics. Psychophysiology , 53 (3), 286–297. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12518  

Morris, S. E., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2012). Research Domain Criteria: Cognitive systems, neural circuits, and dimensions of behavior. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience , 14 (1), 29–37. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2012.14.1/smorris  

Sanislow, C. A., Pine, D. S., Quinn, K. J., Kozak, M. J., Garvey, M. A., Heinssen, R. K., Wang, P. S., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2010). Developing constructs for psychopathology research: Research domain criteria. Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 119 (4), 631–639. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0020909  

  • Presidential Proclamation 6158 (The Decade of the Brain) 
  • Research Domain Criteria Initiative website
  • Psychiatric Ratings using Intermediate Stratified Markers (PRISM)  
  • Roadmap for Mental Health Research in Europe (ROAMER)  
  • Share full article

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Ronna McDaniel, TV News and the Trump Problem

The former republican national committee chairwoman was hired by nbc and then let go after an outcry..

This transcript was created using speech recognition software. While it has been reviewed by human transcribers, it may contain errors. Please review the episode audio before quoting from this transcript and email [email protected] with any questions.

From “The New York Times,” I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Today, the saga of Ronna McDaniel and NBC and what it reveals about the state of television news headed into the 2024 presidential race. Jim Rutenberg, a “Times” writer at large, is our guest.

It’s Monday, April 1.

Jim, NBC News just went through a very public, a very searing drama over the past week, that we wanted you to make sense of in your unique capacity as a longtime media and political reporter at “The Times.” This is your sweet spot. You were, I believe, born to dissect this story for us.

Oh, brother.

Well, on the one hand, this is a very small moment for a major network like NBC. They hire, as a contributor, not an anchor, not a correspondent, as a contributor, Ronna McDaniel, the former RNC chairwoman. It blows up in a mini scandal at the network.

But to me, it represents a much larger issue that’s been there since that moment Donald J. Trump took his shiny gold escalator down to announce his presidential run in 2015. This struggle by the news media to figure out, especially on television, how do we capture him, cover him for all of his lies, all the challenges he poses to Democratic norms, yet not alienate some 74, 75 million American voters who still follow him, still believe in him, and still want to hear his reality reflected in the news that they’re listening to?

Right. Which is about as gnarly a conundrum as anyone has ever dealt with in the news media.

Well, it’s proven so far unsolvable.

Well, let’s use the story of what actually happened with Ronna McDaniel and NBC to illustrate your point. And I think that means describing precisely what happened in this situation.

The story starts out so simply. It’s such a basic thing that television networks do. As elections get underway, they want people who will reflect the two parties.

They want talking heads. They want insiders. They want them on their payroll so they can rely on them whenever they need them. And they want them to be high level so they can speak with great knowledge about the two major candidates.

Right. And rather than needing to beg these people to come on their show at 6 o’clock, when they might be busy and it’s not their full-time job, they go off and they basically put them on retainer for a bunch of money.

Yeah. And in this case, here’s this perfect scenario because quite recently, Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee through the Trump era, most of it, is now out on the market. She’s actually recently been forced out of the party. And all the networks are interested because here’s the consummate insider from Trump world ready to get snatched up under contract for the next election and can really represent this movement that they’ve been trying to capture.

So NBC’S key news executives move pretty aggressively, pretty swiftly, and they sign her up for a $300,000 a year contributor’s contract.

Nice money if you can get it.

Not at millions of dollars that they pay their anchors, but a very nice contract. I’ll take it. You’ll take it. In the eyes of NBC execs she was perfect because she can be on “Meet the Press” as a panelist. She can help as they figure out some of their coverage. They have 24 hours a day to fill and here’s an official from the RNC. You can almost imagine the question that would be asked to her. It’s 10:00 PM on election night. Ronna, what are the Trump people thinking right now? They’re looking at the same numbers you are.

That was good, but that’s exactly it. And we all know it, right? This is television in our current era.

So last Friday, NBC makes what should be a routine announcement, but one they’re very proud of, that they’ve hired Ronna McDaniel. And in a statement, they say it couldn’t be a more important moment to have a voice like Ronna’s on the team. So all’s good, right? Except for there’s a fly in the ointment.

Because it turns out that Ronna McDaniel has been slated to appear on “Meet the Press,” not as a paid NBC contributor, but as a former recently ousted RNC chair with the “Meet The Press” host, Kristen Welker, who’s preparing to have a real tough interview with Ronna McDaniel. Because of course, Ronna McDaniel was chair of the party and at Trump’s side as he tried to refuse his election loss. So this was supposed to be a showdown interview.

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history. This is “Meet The Press” with Kristen Welker.

And here, all of a sudden, Kristin Welker is thrown for a loop.

In full disclosure to our viewers, this interview was scheduled weeks before it was announced that McDaniel would become a paid NBC News contributor.

Because now, she’s actually interviewing a member of the family who’s on the same payroll.

Right. Suddenly, she’s interviewing a colleague.

This will be a news interview, and I was not involved in her hiring.

So what happens during the interview?

So Welker is prepared for a tough interview, and that’s exactly what she does.

Can you say, as you sit here today, did Joe Biden win the election fair and square?

He won. He’s the legitimate president.

Did he win fair and square?

Fair and square, he won. It’s certified. It’s done.

She presses her on the key question that a lot of Republicans get asked these days — do you accept Joe Biden was the winner of the election?

But, I do think, Kristen —

Ronna, why has it taken you until now to say that? Why has it taken you until now to be able to say that?

I’m going to push back a little.

McDaniel gets defensive at times.

Because I do think it’s fair to say there were problems in 2020. And to say that does not mean he’s not the legitimate president.

But, Ronna, when you say that, it suggests that there was something wrong with the election. And you know that the election was the most heavily scrutinized. Chris Krebs —

It’s a really combative interview.

I want to turn now to your actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

And Welker actually really does go deeply into McDaniel’s record in those weeks before January 6.

On November 17, you and Donald Trump were recorded pushing two Republican Michigan election officials not to certify the results of the election. And on the call —

For instance, she presses McDaniel on McDaniel’s role in an attempt to convince a couple county commissioner level canvassers in Michigan to not certify Biden’s victory.

Our call that night was to say, are you OK? Vote your conscience. Not pushing them to do anything.

McDaniel says, look, I was just telling them to vote their conscience. They should do whatever they think is right.

But you said, do not sign it. If you can go home tonight, do not sign it. How can people read that as anything other than a pressure campaign?

And Welker’s not going to just let her off the hook. Welker presses her on Trump’s own comments about January 6 and Trump’s efforts recently to gloss over some of the violence, and to say that those who have been arrested, he’ll free them.

Do you support that?

I want to be very clear. The violence that happened on January 6 is unacceptable.

And this is a frankly fascinating moment because you can hear McDaniel starting to, if not quite reverse some of her positions, though in some cases she does that, at least really soften her language. It’s almost as if she’s switching uniforms from the RNC one to an NBC one or almost like breaking from a role she was playing.

Ronna, why not speak out earlier? Why just speak out about that now?

When you’re the RNC chair, you kind of take one for the whole team, right? Now, I get to be a little bit more myself.

She says, hey, you know what? Sometimes as RNC chair, you just have to take it for the team sometimes.

Right. What she’s really saying is I did things as chairwoman of the Republican National committee that now that I no longer have that job, I can candidly say, I wished I hadn’t done, which is very honest. But it’s also another way of saying I’m two faced, or I was playing a part.

Ronna McDaniel, thank you very much for being here this morning.

Then something extraordinary happens. And I have to say, I’ve never seen a moment like this in decades of watching television news and covering television news.

Welcome back. The panel is here. Chuck Todd, NBC News chief political analyst.

Welker brings her regular panel on, including Chuck Todd, now the senior NBC political analyst.

Chuck, let’s dive right in. What were your takeaways?

And he launches right into what he calls —

Look, let me deal with the elephant in the room.

The elephant being this hiring of McDaniel.

I think our bosses owe you an apology for putting you in this situation.

And he proceeds, on NBC’S air, to lace into management for, as he describes it, putting Welker in this crazy awkward position.

Because I don’t know what to believe. She is now a paid contributor by NBC News. I have no idea whether any answer she gave to you was because she didn’t want to mess up her contract.

And Todd is very hung up on this idea that when she was speaking for the party, she would say one thing. And now that she’s on the payroll at NBC, she’s saying another thing.

She has credibility issues that she still has to deal with. Is she speaking for herself, or is she speaking on behalf of who’s paying her?

Todd is basically saying, how are we supposed to know which one to believe.

What can we believe?

It is important for this network and for always to have a wide aperture. Having ideological diversity on this panel is something I prided myself on.

And what he’s effectively saying is that his bosses should have never hired her in this capacity.

I understand the motivation, but this execution, I think, was poor.

Someone said to me last night we live in complicated times. Thank you guys for being here. I really appreciate it.

Now, let’s just note here, this isn’t just any player at NBC. Chuck Todd is obviously a major news name at the network. And him doing this appears to just open the floodgates across the entire NBC News brand, especially on its sister cable network, MSNBC.

And where I said I’d never seen anything like what I saw on “Meet the Press” that morning, I’d never seen anything like this either. Because now, the entire MSNBC lineup is in open rebellion. I mean, from the minute that the sun comes up. There is Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

We weren’t asked our opinion of the hiring. But if we were, we would have strongly objected to it.

They’re on fire over this.

believe NBC News should seek out conservative Republican voices, but it should be conservative Republicans, not a person who used her position of power to be an anti-democracy election denier.

But it rolls out across the entire schedule.

Because Ronna McDaniel has been a major peddler of the big lie.

The fact that Ms. McDaniel is on the payroll at NBC News, to me that is inexplicable. I mean, you wouldn’t hire a mobster to work at a DA’s office.

Rachel Maddow devotes an entire half hour.

It’s not about just being associated with Donald Trump and his time in the Republican Party. It’s not even about lying or not lying. It’s about our system of government.

Thumbing their noses at our bosses and basically accusing them of abetting a traitorous figure in American history. I mean, just extraordinary stuff. It’s television history.

And let’s face it, we journalists, our bosses, we can be seen as crybabies, and we’re paid complaining. Yeah, that’s what we’re paid to do. But in this case, the NBC executives cannot ignore this, because in the outcry, there’s a very clear point that they’re all making. Ronna McDaniel is not just a voice from the other side. She was a fundamental part of Trump’s efforts to deny his election loss.

This is not inviting the other side. This is someone who’s on the wrong side —

Of history.

Of history, of these moments that we’ve covered and are still covering.

And I think it’s fair to say that at this point, everyone understands that Ronna McDaniel’s time at NBC News is going to be very short lived. Yeah, basically, after all this, the executives at NBC have to face facts it’s over. And on Tuesday night, they release a statement to the staff saying as much.

They don’t cite the questions about red lines or what Ronna McDaniel represented or didn’t represent. They just say we need to have a unified newsroom. We want cohesion. This isn’t working.

I think in the end, she was a paid contributor for four days.

Yeah, one of the shortest tenures in television news history. And look, in one respect, by their standards, this is kind of a pretty small contract, a few hundred thousand dollars they may have to pay out. But it was way more costly because they hired her. They brought her on board because they wanted to appeal to these tens of millions of Americans who still love Donald J. Trump.

And what happens now is that this entire thing is blown up in their face, and those very same people now see a network that, in their view, in the view of Republicans across the country, this network will not accept any Republicans. So it becomes more about that. And Fox News, NBC’S longtime rival, goes wall to wall with this.

Now, NBC News just caved to the breathless demands from their far left, frankly, emotionally unhinged host.

I mean, I had it on my desk all day. And every minute I looked at that screen, it was pounding on these liberals at NBC News driving this Republican out.

It’s the shortest tenure in TV history, I think. But why? Well, because she supports Donald Trump, period.

So in a way, this leaves NBC worse off with that Trump Republican audience they had wanted to court than maybe even they were before. It’s like a boomerang with a grenade on it.

Yeah, it completely explodes in their face. And that’s why to me, the whole episode is so representative of this eight-year conundrum for the news media, especially on television. They still haven’t been able to crack the code for how to handle the Trump movement, the Trump candidacy, and what it has wrought on the American political system and American journalism.

We’ll be right back.

Jim, put into context this painful episode of NBC into that larger conundrum you just diagnosed that the media has faced when it comes to Trump.

Well, Michael, it’s been there from the very beginning, from the very beginning of his political rise. The media was on this kind of seesaw. They go back and forth over how to cover him. Sometimes they want to cover him quite aggressively because he’s such a challenging candidate. He was bursting so many norms.

But at other times, there was this instinct to understand his appeal, for the same reason. He’s such an unusual candidate. So there was a great desire to really understand his voters. And frankly, to speak to his voters, because they’re part of the audience. And we all lived it, right?

But just let me take you back anyway because everything’s fresh again with perspective. And so if you go back, let’s look at when he first ran. The networks, if you recall, saw him as almost like a novelty candidate.

He was going to spice up what was expected to be a boring campaign between the usual suspects. And he was a ratings magnet. And the networks, they just couldn’t get enough of it. And they allowed him, at times, to really shatter their own norms.

Welcome back to “Meet the Press,” sir.

Good morning, Chuck.

Good morning. Let me start —

He was able to just call into the studio and riff with the likes of George Stephanopoulos and Chuck Todd.

What does it have to do with Hillary?

She can’t talk about me because nobody respects women more than Donald Trump.

And CNN gave him a lot of unmitigated airtime, if you recall during the campaign. They would run the press conferences.

It’s the largest winery on the East Coast. I own it 100 percent.

And let him promote his Trump steaks and his Trump wine.

Trump steaks. Where are the steaks? Do we have steaks?

I mean, it got that crazy. But again, the ratings were huge. And then he wins. And because they had previously given him all that airtime, they’ve, in retrospect, sort of given him a political gift, and more than that now have a journalistic imperative to really address him in a different way, to cover him as they would have covered any other candidate, which, let’s face it, they weren’t doing initially. So there’s this extra motivation to make up for lost ground and maybe for some journalistic omissions.

Right. Kind of correct for the lack of a rigorous journalistic filter in the campaign.

Exactly. And the big thing that this will be remembered for is we’re going to call a lie a lie.

I don’t want to sugarcoat this because facts matter, and the fact is President Trump lies.

Trump lies. We’re going to say it’s a lie.

And I think we can’t just mince around it because they are lies. And so we need to call them what they are.

We’re no longer going to use euphemisms or looser language we’re. Going to call it for what it is.

Trump lies in tweets. He spreads false information at rallies. He lies when he doesn’t need to. He lies when the truth is more than enough for him.

CNN was running chyrons. They would fact check Trump and call lies lies on the screen while Trump is talking. They were challenging Trump to his face —

One of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign in the midterms that —

Here we go.

That — well, if you don’t mind, Mr. President, that this caravan was an invasion.

— in these crazy press conferences —

They’re are hundreds of miles away, though. They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away. That’s not an invasion.

Honestly, I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN. And if you did it well, your ratings —

Well, let me ask — if I may ask one other question. Mr. President, if I may ask another question. Are you worried —

That’s enough. That’s enough.

And Trump is giving it right back.

I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.

Very combative.

So this was this incredibly fraught moment for the American press. You’ve got tens of millions of Trump supporters seeing what’s really basic fact checking. These look like attacks to Trump supporters. Trump, in turn, is calling the press, the reporters are enemies of the people. So it’s a terrible dynamic.

And when January 6 happens, it’s so obviously out of control. And what the traditional press that follows, traditional journalistic rules has to do is make it clear that the claims that Trump is making about a stolen election are just so abjectly false that they don’t warrant a single minute of real consideration once the reporting has been done to show how false they are. And I think that American journalism really emerged from that feeling strongly about its own values and its own place in society.

But then there’s still tens of millions of Trump voters, and they don’t feel so good about the coverage. And they don’t agree that January 6 was an insurrection. And so we enter yet another period, where the press is going to have to now maybe rethink some things.

In what way?

Well, there’s a kind of quiet period after January 6. Trump is off of social media. The smoke is literally dissipating from the air in Washington. And news executives are kind of standing there on the proverbial battlefield, taking a new look at their situation.

And they’re seeing that in this clearer light, they’ve got some new problems, perhaps none more important for their entire business models than that their ratings are quickly crashing. And part of that diminishment is that a huge part of the country, that Trump-loving part of the audience, is really now severed from him from their coverage.

They see the press as actually, in some cases, being complicit in stealing an election. And so these news executives, again, especially on television, which is so ratings dependent, they’ve got a problem. So after presumably learning all these lessons about journalism and how to confront power, there’s a first subtle and then much less subtle rethinking.

Maybe we need to pull back from that approach. And maybe we need to take some new lessons and switch it up a little bit and reverse some of what we did. And one of the best examples of this is none other than CNN.

It had come under new management, was being led by a guy named Chris Licht, a veteran of cable news, but also Stephen Colbert’s late night show in his last job. And his new job under this new management is we’re going to recalibrate a little bit. So Chris Licht proceeds to try to bring the network back to the center.

And how does he do that?

Well, we see some key personalities who represented the Trump combat era start losing air time and some of them lose their jobs. There’s talk of, we want more Republicans on the air. There was a famous magazine article about Chris Licht’s balancing act here.

And Chris Licht says to a reporter, Tim Alberta of the “Atlantic” magazine, look, a lot in the media, including at his own network, quote unquote, “put on a jersey, took a side.” They took a side. And he says, I think we understand that jersey cannot go back on him. Because he says in the end of the day, by the way, it didn’t even work. We didn’t change anyone’s mind.

He’s saying that confrontational approach that defined the four years Trump was in office, that was a reaction to the feeling that TV news had failed to properly treat Trump with sufficient skepticism, that that actually was a failure both of journalism and of the TV news business. Is that what he’s saying?

Yeah. On the business side, it’s easier call, right? You want a bigger audience, and you’re not getting the bigger audience. But he’s making a journalistic argument as well that if the job is to convey the truth and take it to the people, and they take that into account as they make their own voting decisions and formulate their own opinions about American politics, if tens of millions of people who do believe that election was stolen are completely tuning you out because now they see you as a political combatant, you’re not achieving your ultimate goal as a journalist.

And what does Licht’s “don’t put a jersey back on” approach look like on CNN for its viewers?

Well, It didn’t look good. People might remember this, but the most glaring example —

Please welcome, the front runner for the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump.

— was when he held a town hall meeting featuring Donald J. Trump, now candidate Trump, before an audience packed with Trump’s fans.

You look at what happened during that election. Unless you’re a very stupid person, you see what happens. A lot of the people —

Trump let loose a string of falsehoods.

Most people understand what happened. It was a rigged election.

The audience is pro-Trump audience, was cheering him on.

Are you ready? Are you ready? Can I talk?

Yeah, what’s your answer?

Can I? Do you mind?

I would like for you to answer the question.

OK. It’s very simple to answer.

That’s why I asked it.

It’s very simple. You’re a nasty person, I’ll tell you that.

And during, the CNN anchor hosting this, Kaitlan Collins, on CNN’s own air, it was a disaster.

It felt like a callback to the unlearned lessons of 2016.

Yeah. And in this case, CNN’s staff was up in arms.

Big shakeup in the cable news industry as CNN makes another change at the top.

Chris Licht is officially out at CNN after a chaotic run as chairman and CEO.

And Chris Licht didn’t survive it.

The chief executive’s departure comes as he faced criticism in recent weeks after the network hosted a town hall with Donald Trump and the network’s ratings started to drop.

But I want to say that the CNN leadership still, even after that, as they brought new leadership in, said, this is still the path we’re going to go on. Maybe that didn’t work out, but we’re still here. This is still what we have to do.

Right. And this idea is very much in the water of TV news, that this is the right overall direction.

Yeah. This is, by no means, isolated to CNN. This is throughout the traditional news business. These conversations are happening everywhere. But CNN was living it at that point.

And this, of course, is how we get to NBC deciding to hire Ronna McDaniel.

Right. Because they’re picking up — right where that conversation leaves off, they’re having the same conversation. But for NBC, you could argue this tension between journalistic values and audience. It’s even more pressing. Because even though MSNBC is a niche cable network, NBC News is part of an old-fashioned broadcast network. It’s on television stations throughout the country.

And in fact, those networks, they still have 6:30 newscasts. And believe it or not, millions of people still watch those every night. Maybe not as many as they used to, but there’s still some six or seven million people tuning in to nightly news. That’s important.

Right. We should say that kind of number is sometimes double or triple that of the cable news prime time shows that get all the attention.

On their best nights. So this is big business still. And that business is based on broad — it’s called broadcast for a reason. That’s based on broad audiences. So NBC had a business imperative, and they argue they had a journalistic imperative.

So given all of that, Jim, I think the big messy question here is, when it comes to NBC, did they make a tactical error around hiring the wrong Republican which blew up? Or did they make an even larger error in thinking that the way you handle Trump and his supporters is to work this hard to reach them, when they might not even be reachable?

The best way to answer that question is to tell you what they’re saying right now, NBC management. What the management saying is, yes, this was a tactical error. This was clearly the wrong Republican. We get it.

But they’re saying, we are going to — and they said this in their statement, announcing that they were severing ties with McDaniel. They said, we’re going to redouble our efforts to represent a broad spectrum of the American votership. And that’s what they meant was that we’re going to still try to reach these Trump voters with people who can relate to them and they can relate to.

But the question is, how do you even do that when so many of his supporters believe a lie? How is NBC, how is CNN, how are any of these TV networks, if they have decided that this is their mission, how are they supposed to speak to people who believe something fundamentally untrue as a core part of their political identity?

That’s the catch-22. How do you get that Trump movement person who’s also an insider, when the litmus test to be an insider in the Trump movement is to believe in the denialism or at least say you do? So that’s a real journalistic problem. And the thing that we haven’t really touched here is, what are these networks doing day in and day out?

They’re not producing reported pieces, which I think it’s a little easier. You just report the news. You go out into the world. You talk to people, and then you present it to the world as a nuanced portrait of the country. This thing is true. This thing is false. Again, in many cases, pretty straightforward. But their bread and butter is talking heads. It’s live. It’s not edited. It’s not that much reported.

So their whole business model especially, again, on cable, which has 24 hours to fill, is talking heads. And if you want the perspective from the Trump movement, journalistically, especially when it comes to denialism, but when it comes to some other major subjects in American life, you’re walking into a place where they’re going to say things that aren’t true, that don’t pass your journalistic standards, the most basic standards of journalism.

Right. So you’re saying if TV sticks with this model, the kind of low cost, lots of talk approach to news, then they are going to have to solve the riddle of who to bring on, who represents Trump’s America if they want that audience. And now they’ve got this red line that they’ve established, that that person can’t be someone who denies the 2020 election reality. But like you just said, that’s the litmus test for being in Trump’s orbit.

So this doesn’t really look like a conundrum. This looks like a bit of a crisis for TV news because it may end up meaning that they can’t hire that person that they need for this model, which means that perhaps a network like NBC does need to wave goodbye to a big segment of these viewers and these eyeballs who support Trump.

I mean, on the one hand, they are not ready to do that, and they would never concede that that’s something they’re ready to do. The problem is barring some kind of change in their news model, there’s no solution to this.

But why bar changes to their news model, I guess, is the question. Because over the years, it’s gotten more and more expensive to produce news, the news that I’m talking about, like recorded packages and what we refer to as reporting. Just go out and report the news.

Don’t gab about it. Just what’s going on, what’s true, what’s false. That’s actually very expensive in television. And they don’t have the kind of money they used to have. So the talking heads is their way to do programming at a level where they can afford it.

They do some packages. “60 Minutes” still does incredible work. NBC does packages, but the lion’s share of what they do is what we’re talking about. And that’s not going to change because the economics aren’t there.

So then a final option, of course, to borrow something Chris Licht said, is that a network like NBC perhaps doesn’t put a jersey on, but accepts the reality that a lot of the world sees them wearing a jersey.

Yeah. I mean, nobody wants to be seen as wearing a jersey in our business. No one wants to be wearing a jersey on our business. But maybe what they really have to accept is that we’re just sticking to the true facts, and that may look like we’re wearing a jersey, but we’re not. And that may, at times, look like it’s lining up more with the Democrats, but we’re not.

If Trump is lying about a stolen election, that’s not siding against him. That’s siding for the truth, and that’s what we’re doing. Easier said than done. And I don’t think any of these concepts are new.

I think there have been attempts to do that, but it’s the world they’re in. And it’s the only option they really have. We’re going to tell you the truth, even if it means that we’re going to lose a big part of the country.

Well, Jim, thank you very much.

Thank you, Michael.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

[PROTESTERS CHANTING]

Over the weekend, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in some of the largest domestic demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Israel invaded Gaza in the fall.

[NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

Some of the protesters called on Netanyahu to reach a cease fire deal that would free the hostages taken by Hamas on October 7. Others called for early elections that would remove Netanyahu from office.

During a news conference on Sunday, Netanyahu rejected calls for early elections, saying they would paralyze his government at a crucial moment in the war.

Today’s episode was produced by Rob Szypko, Rikki Novetsky, and Alex Stern, with help from Stella Tan.

It was edited by Brendan Klinkenberg with help from Rachel Quester and Paige Cowett. Contains original music by Marion Lozano, Dan Powell, and Rowan Niemisto and was engineered by Chris Wood. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly.

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.

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  • April 2, 2024   •   29:32 Kids Are Missing School at an Alarming Rate
  • April 1, 2024   •   36:14 Ronna McDaniel, TV News and the Trump Problem
  • March 29, 2024   •   48:42 Hamas Took Her, and Still Has Her Husband
  • March 28, 2024   •   33:40 The Newest Tech Start-Up Billionaire? Donald Trump.
  • March 27, 2024   •   28:06 Democrats’ Plan to Save the Republican House Speaker
  • March 26, 2024   •   29:13 The United States vs. the iPhone
  • March 25, 2024   •   25:59 A Terrorist Attack in Russia
  • March 24, 2024   •   21:39 The Sunday Read: ‘My Goldendoodle Spent a Week at Some Luxury Dog ‘Hotels.’ I Tagged Along.’
  • March 22, 2024   •   35:30 Chuck Schumer on His Campaign to Oust Israel’s Leader
  • March 21, 2024   •   27:18 The Caitlin Clark Phenomenon
  • March 20, 2024   •   25:58 The Bombshell Case That Will Transform the Housing Market
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Produced by Rob Szypko ,  Rikki Novetsky and Alex Stern

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Ronna McDaniel’s time at NBC was short. The former Republican National Committee chairwoman was hired as an on-air political commentator but released just days later after an on-air revolt by the network’s leading stars.

Jim Rutenberg, a writer at large for The Times, discusses the saga and what it might reveal about the state of television news heading into the 2024 presidential race.

On today’s episode

mental health and law research paper topics

Jim Rutenberg , a writer at large for The New York Times.

Ronna McDaniel is talking, with a coffee cup sitting on the table in front of her. In the background is footage of Donald Trump speaking behind a lecture.

Background reading

Ms. McDaniel’s appointment had been immediately criticized by reporters at the network and by viewers on social media.

The former Republican Party leader tried to downplay her role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A review of the record shows she was involved in some key episodes .

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The Daily is made by Rachel Quester, Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Paige Cowett, Michael Simon Johnson, Brad Fisher, Chris Wood, Jessica Cheung, Stella Tan, Alexandra Leigh Young, Lisa Chow, Eric Krupke, Marc Georges, Luke Vander Ploeg, M.J. Davis Lin, Dan Powell, Sydney Harper, Mike Benoist, Liz O. Baylen, Asthaa Chaturvedi, Rachelle Bonja, Diana Nguyen, Marion Lozano, Corey Schreppel, Rob Szypko, Elisheba Ittoop, Mooj Zadie, Patricia Willens, Rowan Niemisto, Jody Becker, Rikki Novetsky, John Ketchum, Nina Feldman, Will Reid, Carlos Prieto, Ben Calhoun, Susan Lee, Lexie Diao, Mary Wilson, Alex Stern, Dan Farrell, Sophia Lanman, Shannon Lin, Diane Wong, Devon Taylor, Alyssa Moxley, Summer Thomad, Olivia Natt, Daniel Ramirez and Brendan Klinkenberg.

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