German Center for Mental Health (DZPG) begins work

On May 1, the German Center for Mental Health (DZPG) began its research work.

The DZPG, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), consists of six so-called “excellent research sites”. Two of the six sites are in Baden-Württemberg, in Mannheim (with Heidelberg and Ulm) and in Tübingen. The other locations are Munich (with Augsburg), Berlin (with Potsdam), Bochum (with Marburg) and Halle (with Jena and Magdeburg).

The aim of the interdisciplinary work is to better understand and positively influence the development and course of mental illnesses.

Mental disorders affect more than one third of all people in Germany during their lifetime. In order to understand, avoid or successfully treat them, it is necessary to look at life spans and life worlds.

Mental illness does not suddenly begin in adulthood, as if nothing had happened before. Rather, they begin in childhood and adolescence. That is why the focus is specifically on the development of mental health and mental disorders, starting from birth. The aim is not to treat mental disorders only when they have already manifested themselves and those affected are suffering as a result, but to take preventive countermeasures at an early stage and to prevent the development of such disorders.

Among other things, neuronal processes are focused on and the contribution of life circumstances, including traumatic experiences in childhood, is investigated. New therapeutic approaches will be developed and integrated into care. People affected by mental illness should be involved in the design of research on an equal footing.

In addition, it is important to take people’s lifeworlds into account. This includes, for example, the family, school and work.

Already in the run-up, representatives of patients’ and relatives’ associations had formed a trialogical center council together with researchers from the DZPG sites. This should ensure that the needs of all stakeholders are brought to bear at all stages of planning, conducting, and implementing the research findings.

This means, among other things, that topics such as peer support, destigmatization, salutogenesis, how relatives deal with suicide, and participatory research in clinical psychology and psychiatry will be established in the research agenda of the DZPG.