History

Present

National Institute of Mental Health originated from Prague Psychiatric Centre on 1st January 2015 and is located at Topolová 748, 250 67 Klecany. The establishment of a new modern centre oriented on research and clinical care was made possible by a project financed by Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation. NIMH is meant to become national reference institution for the field of mental health.
NIMH programme is focused on researching neurobiological mechanisms that lead to development of severe mental disorders (schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and stress reactions). Research also includes development and testing of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Our approach is based upon interconnection of methods of molecular biology, animal modelling and clinical research and testing.

Neurobiology of Mental Illness: Research of neurobiological mechanisms that lead to development of severe mental disorders (schizophrenia, depression, anxiety states and stress reactions). The research also includes development and testing of new diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Our approach is based upon interconnection of methods of molecular biology, animal modelling and clinical research and testing.

Neurobiology of Ageing and Dementia: Research of changes in brain in the process of getting old and development of methods to detect early cognitive disorders, dementias and in particular Alzheimer’s disease. The output from brain imaging, neuropsychological and biochemical methods is used to develop techniques of early diagnosing and identifying possible Alzheimer’s patients.

Biological Nature of Addictions: Research of neuronal mechanisms of dependence formation and of new therapeutic possibilities, as well as biological and pharmacological characteristics of existing and especially new synthetic drugs emerging at world market. Output is applied in primary prevention and risk reduction. The main objective is to develop substances and other therapeutic means capable of treating dependencies and prevent them from progressing.

Epidemiology of Mental Illness: The objective of this research is to provide outcome of nationwide epidemiological survey of mental disorders incidence among Czech population with seven-year periodicity. The results will bring basic data for rational planning of a psychiatric service network, orientation of preventive and educational programmes aimed at addictions and other mental health disorders. The programme will issue proposals for specific measures to be taken in order to improve mental health care system.

System of Psychiatric Care in the Czech Republic Based upon Facts: Research in the field of social psychiatry will use analyses and both nationwide and international comparative studies to bring facts about expensiveness and effectivity of psychiatric care systems. Comparisons of various types of intervention, services and complex care systems (psychiatric care models), analysis and prediction of expenses and demands, will provide hard data needed for knowledgeable adjustment of psychiatric care system in the Czech Republic.

New Technologies in Mental Health Improvement: The objective is to create an electronic system capable of integrating all patient’s data from mobile applications with present therapeutic information, brain imaging output, presence of risky gene variants and other biomarkers. Resulting individualized complex database will then, thanks to specific mathematical analytical tools, provide expert recommendations towards therapy optimisation. An electronic hospital system will also connect NIMH with doctors’ offices and providers of rehabilitation and social services.

Treatment and Research of Sleep Disorders and Biological Rhythms Disturbances: The sleep medicine programme is focused on researching, diagnosing and treating sleep and circadian rhythm disorders. Sleep regulation, changes in sleep/awake rhythms and impacts of overuse or dependence on hypnotics are studied on several levels. The main aim is to improve objective diagnostics of sleep disorders and therapeutic predictions through new mathematical methods in computer analysis of biosignal including polysomnograms. Findings are immediately used in clinical practice as guidelines and recommendations for improvement of early diagnostics and therapy optimization.

The main objective of NIMH Clinical Centre as the national reference institution is to form a base for development, testing and introducing latest therapeutic methods into practice, for creating medical standards, and for training experts. Special attention is paid to research and treatment of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders and mental disorders in old age including dementias. NIMH has inpatient wards (60 beds in total), a day care centre, memory disorders counselling office and specialized outpatient departments. NIMH Clinical Centre accepts patients from all regions of the Czech Republic on the basis of their clinical profile and current research programmes.

NIMH is also a training base for medical students of the Third Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague and for other master’s and postgradual programmes (psychology, neurosciences, biology, sociology, epidemiology etc.).


History

Prague Psychiatric Centre was located on the premises of Psychiatric Hospital in Bohnice and had a history longer than 50 years, starting with the founding of Psychiatric Research Institute in 1961. Its first director, prof. MUDr. Lubomír Hanzlíček, DrSc. (1916–1982), became professor of psychiatry at the Faculty of Hygiene and wrote a unique psychiatric encyclopaedia. In 1970s and 1980s students of the faculty were given lectures on psychiatry here, at Psychiatric Research Institute. In 1990 the link between Psychiatric Centre’s work and psychiatric education at the Third Faculty of Medicine was reestablished.

In its time the Institute served as a base for many outstanding figures. Prof. Kurt Freund (1914–1996), who made an essential contribution to understanding sexual deviations, worked in Toronto; PhDr. Jaroslav Madlafousek, CSc. (1922–2008), a continuator of Prof. Freund’s work, was a respected expert on non-verbal behaviour. PhDr. Michael Žantovský, a former Ambassador to the USA and Czech President’s spokesman, spent many years working in Dr. Madlafousek’s laboratory. The Institute also saw the beginning of Grof brothers’ careers. Prof. Pavel Grof is now an internationally renowned psychiatrist and professor in Ottawa. His brother Stanislav lives in California and the world knows him as an expert at transpersonal psychology. Prof. MUDr. Miloš Matoušek, CSc., who worked in the EEG laboratory, is a recognized Swedish specialist. Prof. Jan V. Volavka is a renowned scientist at Nathan S. Kline Institute in the state of New York. Dr. Frank Engelsmann worked at McGill University, Montreal. The famous surrealist MUDr. Ludvík Šváb, CSc. (1924–1997) also worked in the Institute, as well as former heads of Continuous Medical Education Institute’s Psychiatry Department Prof. A. Janík (1926–2002) and Prof. K. Chromý, and erudite psychopharmacologists Doc. J. Baštecký (1936–2007) and Doc. O. Vinař.

The main function of Prague Psychiatric Centre was to carry out scientific research of mental disorders and mental health in general.

This specialization was furthermore used to:

  • provide standard and above-standard expert and specialized inpatient and outpatient therapeutic care,
  • educate scientific and specialist staff in its field of activity (postgradual education),
  • take part in processing and propagating scientific medical information,
  • represent Czech science abroad, specifically in the field of mental illness research and protection of mental health.

Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology of the Third Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague

Furthermore, Prague Psychiatric Centre served as clinical base for Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology of the Third Faculty of Medicine and closely cooperated with international organizations (e.g. WHO, UNESCO, World Federation for Mental Health).

Research activities

Research activities of the Institute focus on detection, prevention and remediation of risk factors that endanger an individual‘s mental health in various life stages and at various levels – from biochemical to social. To reach such a complex objective the research is carried out in these domains:

  • psychiatric demography and epidemiology,
  • biopsychosocial research of the family,
  • neuropsychology,
  • epidemiology of addictive substance abuse and dependence,
  • psychometrics,
  • brain biochemistry and pathophysiology,
  • psychopharmacology.

These activities resulted in practical output in the form of data needed for shaping healthcare politics in the field of mental health, for effective channelling of funds to technologies, methods and means with high utilization ratio during detection, prediction of progress and therapeutic response to intervention in the field of mental health, and of data to be used in diagnostic and therapeutic vademecums.

In the year 2000 Prague Psychiatric Centre obtained a block grant from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for the project "Centre for Neuropsychiatric Studies". The project enabled us to organizationally and economically support and integrate top experts from many fields and institutions (Institute of Physiology CAS, Third Medical Faculty of Charles University, Prague Psychiatric Centre, PET centres of Na Homolce Hospital and IKEM) working on a neuropsychiatric subject. The main contribution of the project was an integration of neurophysiological, neurochemical, structural, cognitive, neuroendocrinologic and clinical models of major mental disorders. The project was carried out simultaneously and coordinately in four departments: brain pathophysiology (theoretical research), imaging methods (fMRI, MR spectroscopy, SPECT, PET, neuropsychological and cognitive tests), clinical neurophysiology (EEG and clinical neurophysiology laboratory) and applied research (neuroendocrine testing, serotonin and glycide metabolism relationship, clinical studies of tryptophan-free diet, studies of therapeutic efficiency of antipsychotic and antidepressive modalities, prediction of therapeutic response and outcome of an illness). Centre for Neuropsychiatric Studies provided a unique chance to integrate basic and applied research in neurobehavioural sciences and as a workplace contributed markedly to education of new generation.

Towards the end of 2011, Prague Psychiatric Centre received a major grant from Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation (priority axis Regional R&D Centres) named National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). For Czech Republic, finishing of the project should bring: (1) involvement in international R&D projects concerning neurobiology of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders (i.e. basic research projects), (2) international projects in applied research of medical technologies and neurobiology, (3) diagnostics and treatment of old-age and neuropsychiatric disorders at the highest level possible in public healthcare, (4) access to funding from international sources, (5) development of local innovative technology companies in the sectors of diagnostic equipment and biotechnologies, (6) bigger appeal for top experts from abroad, and thus an opportunity to transfer their expertise to the Czech Republic, which will provide a lasting knowledge input to Czech experts on human medicine, pharmaceuticals, biotechnologies, biomedical engineering and related branches.

The proposed implementation is reflected in the arrangement and succession of intended research activities, from basic molecular and behavioural research to the testing of new medications, therapeutic and diagnostic procedures, to clinical research. At population level, there follow activities aiming at epidemiology and mental healthcare strategies. To reach priority objectives mentioned above, it is necessary to expand technical and instrumental facilities in the form of a freshly conceived institution with a much broader research capacity. NIMH, built in 2011-2015, will become a top level centre for innovative medical science, competitive not only in the Czech Republic, but also in international comparison.

Prague Psychiatric Centre carried out grant projects from Internal Grant Agency of the Ministry of Health, Grant Agency of the CR, Grant Agency of Charles University and ČS-USA. Clinical psychopharmacology projects, epidemiological projects and demographic projects were carried out in international collaboration. Foreign guests and pedagogues gave lectures at the institute.

Prague Psychiatric Centre was co-publisher of the nationwide journal Psychiatry.

Psychiatric education

Prague Psychiatric Centre provided psychiatry tuition for all study programmes at the Third Faculty of Medicine at Charles University, was a base for psychology tuition at the faculty and participated in the teaching of neurosciences. The Centre offered elective modules and topics for students‘ individual activities.

Inpatient and outpatient care

Prague Psychiatric Centre offered inpatient and outpatient care and developed programmes to protect mental health in the population. It participated in development and evaluation of diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative methods in psychiatry, and in research of mental disorders.

 


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