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Behind The Scenes of Mental Health Research

Katie Hosey

Research Fellow at NIMH- National Institute of Mental Health

Speaking from Perspective of Individual Researcher

Tell me about yourself, and your role as a researcher at NIMH

My name is Katie Hosey, and I am a postbaccalaureate research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health. I work for NIMH in different branches, along with doing independent research projects. Currently I work for a lab that does research into the genetics of bipolar disorder, I’m on the clinical team, which works directly with the participants and their families.

What have you learned from being a research fellow?

There is certainly a lot I have gathered and learned from researching. I believe one of the best aspects of the job is the mentorship. You don’t always find that in academia, but it’s a major part of the culture in general. Having many coworkers, and supportive people you look up to especially in careers related to mental health is super beneficial. Say you might be having a bad day, or just aren’t in the best mood, everyone is usually super understanding. On the research side of it, everyone is really trying to work towards the same thing, and it’s an extremely collaborative environment, which makes it easy to build connections.

How do you conduct research on bipolar and schizophrenia patients?

We work with anabaptist populations which are Dominican Mennonite as well as other populations, but largely antibiotic populations because there generally isolated. It plays into the founder effect in genetics where they came over from Europe and then reproduced with people outside of their culture. Inevitable then their gene pool is homogeneous compared to the regular population, and we take this information and work to find rare genetic causes for bipolar disorder. In my role we work to do advertising and anabaptist newspapers magazines to try and having people in the community reach out to us and get involved. Additionally, we recruit them to go to psychiatric hospitals. In general, we work to find people that are affected and interested in care. Once we can recruit individuals it becomes time for more genetic work- taking blood samples, teams looking into genetic sequencing, running tests, etc.

How have you seen mental health increase over the pandemic to where it is right now?

In general, from what I have seen through simply being a human, there are social and community factors of COVID that have streamed negative impacts on people’s mental health. Projects at NIMH worked to investigate how COVID affected outreach events, but they were not super representative on the population as a total. Due to this result, I ended up doing a lot of research on how the general population was affected. In current times there is a ton of research coming out that people who were working in mental health fields were at extremely high risks for depressive and anxiety symptoms. I think that the past couple years people have been good at talking about their problems, and resources have gotten better at catering to everyone’s needs. Now there is a lot of startups that are working on expanding coverage of mental health. Talk space is one thing/ online mental health resource that living people are advocating for, additionally I think that health insurance coverage needs a lot of work. Overall people are doing a lot better at highlighting how mental states can really unravel at times, and we need to learn how to work together.

What is your goal as a mental health advocate through researching at NIMH?

I just hope that I can continue to make an impact in the community relating to mental health. Research takes time, and it’s a lengthy process, but I believe that we are slowly moving in the right direction. Losing the stigma behind going to therapy and seeking out help is the number one priority in my eyes right now.

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