The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was founded in 1887 and today is one of the world's foremost medical research centers and the federal focal point for medical research in the United States. NIH, comprising 27 separate institutes and centers, is one of eight health agencies of the Public Health Service which, in turn, is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of NIH research is to acquire new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability, from the rarest genetic disorder to the common cold. The NIH mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone. NIH works toward that mission by conducting research in its own laboratories; supporting the research of non-federal scientists in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad; helping in the training of research investigators; and fostering communication of medical and health sciences information. Specific resources that may be useful for runaway and homeless youth service providers, researchers, and policymakers are below.
National Library of Medicine
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has been a center of information innovation since its founding in 1836. The world’s largest biomedical library, NLM maintains and makes available a vast print collection and produces electronic information resources on a wide range of topics that are searched billions of times each year by millions of people around the globe. It also supports and conducts research, development, and training in biomedical informatics and health information technology. In addition, the Library coordinates a 6,500-member National Network of Libraries of Medicine that promotes and provides access to health information in communities across the United States. NLM offers a useful overview of its website, one of the first agency websites in the federal government, which describes and links to many of its resources and services. In addition to frequently asked questions, newsletters to subscribe to, NLM fact sheets, and a gallery of mobile apps, this page links to a tutorial on PubMed and tips and tools for using it. PubMed is a free resource that provides access to MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine database of 28 million citations and abstracts for biomedical literature, life science journals, and online books in the fields of medicine, health care systems, and related areas. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
National Institute of Mental Health
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is the lead federal agency for research on mental disorders. Its mission is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. Of interest to the runaway and homeless youth community, NIMH conducts research on trauma. A particular resource of interest is: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Community Members Can Do. NIMH also studies the intersection between mental health and drug abuse, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (another NIH institute described below) is devoted entirely to the study of the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is the largest supporter of research on drug use and addiction. NIDA-funded scientific research addresses the most fundamental and essential questions about drug use, including tracking emerging drug use trends, understanding how drugs work in the brain and body, developing and testing new drug treatment and prevention approaches, and disseminating findings to the public, researchers, policymakers, and others. NIDA’s mission is to advance science on the causes and consequences of drug use and addiction and to apply that knowledge to improve individual and public health. Runaway and homeless youth service providers will find a number of useful resources from NIDA, including:
- Commonly Used Drug Charts (also available to order) provide comprehensive information on drugs from alcohol to heroin, LSD to opioids, and steroids to tobacco. The information provided includes street names, commercial names, common forms, common ways to take it, possible health effects, treatment options, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) schedule (which indicates the drug’s acceptable medical use and its potential for abuse or dependence.) The most up-to-date schedule information can be found on the DEA website.
- Resource collections by user type such as Patients and Families, Parents and Educators, and Children and Teens contain information and resources in the form of web content, videos, publications, fact sheets, and infographics organized by audience type. Browse these NIDA pages for resources to meet specific needs.
- Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents (In Brief) presents findings on prevention strategies and the results of interventions that have been tested in real-world settings, making them more easily adapted for community use.