Of mice and mental health: facilitating dialogue and seeing further.

22 Mar 2018

The science of mental life is critical for understanding both how we function, and impairments in our functioning. However, understanding the causal mechanisms underlying mental health disorders and developing new treatments are challenges too great to be solved by any individual approach. There is a growing awareness that translational research-from laboratory to patient and back again to animal models-will be critical for the improved understanding and treatment of mental health disorders. The motivation and intention to pursue translational approaches is therefore strong in mental health research, but critically, opportunities for interaction between basic scientists and clinicians are relatively limited, and vary depending on the institution in which researchers are working. This has promoted the development of a 'culture gap' between basic and clinical scientists that limits interaction and sharing of knowledge. Here, we provide 14 examples of contemporary translational research and call for an increased collaborative approach to mental health research that spans clinical diagnoses, levels of analysis and bridges between basic to clinical mental health sciences, including, but not limited to, psychology and neuroscience. What is needed is an inclusive and integrated approach, bringing together scientists working at all levels of enquiry with clinicians providing insights on what works (and what does not). To stimulate the much-needed innovation in therapeutic techniques, an analysis of component parts is critical. Our approach suggests simplifying complex behaviours into distinct psychological components. Asking collaboratively driven scientific questions about dysfunction will also benefit our fundamental understanding of mental life.This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Of mice and mental health: facilitating dialogue between basic and clinical neuroscientists'.