The Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery (CMHRR) at Montana State University combines interdisciplinary health and research specifically to improve the process of diagnosing and treating serious mental illness through collaborative efforts between some of the State of Montana's best neuroscientists, clinicians, engineers, and those affected by mental illness, and their families.  


  1. Ensure that Montanans have access within the state to cutting-edge, research-driven techniquesfor diagnosingand treatingmental illness. 
  2. Focus research efforts on the specific challenges presented when accessing treatment in isolated rural communities with limited treatment providers.
  3. Serve as an information hub for the understanding and treatment of psychiatric conditions that lead to suicidal behavior. 

  4. Create educational opportunities and jobs through the development of a regional “innovation cluster” based upon the revolutions in neuroscience and psychiatric treatment. 

The impact of mental illness in the US and Montana

Mental illness and its consequences in the US

  • Mental illnesses occur in 25% of the US population each year; 6% experience serious mental illness
  • Most mental disorders occur before age 50: 50% occur by age 14 and 75% by age 24
  • Costlier than all other US health problems combined, with $201 billion spent on health care each year
  • Suicide is a leading cause of death in US youth and young adults (ages 15-34), second only to accidents

Mental illness and its consequences in Montana

  • Highest suicide rate in the country, nearly twice the national rate, and the second leading cause of death in youth and adults (ages 10-44)
  • Large populations at high risk of mental illness and/or suicide including Native Americans and military veterans
  • 12% of all 7th-8th grade Montana youth report attempting suicide one or more times in the past year

What are the challenges to improving the mental health of Montanans? 

  • Care resources are focused on intervening in crisis rather than prevention and early treatment
  • There is a delay in years from onset of illness to initial diagnosis and treatment
  • Limited access to proven mental health treatments
  • Shortage of mental health clinical workforce
  • Higher rates of specific mental health disorders such as PTSD and TBI in particular populations, like military veterans
  • High prevalence of substance use/abuse, which is similar to the rest of the nation