The proposed program is designed to train the next generation of scholars in health and mental health economics by providing a broad (across the core disciplines of economics) and deep (within the field of mental health economics and the methodologies of economic analysis) academic experience. Designing policies to ensure cost-effective, equitable mental health care in the U.S. population with its heterogeneous needs and resources (e.g. insurance coverage) requires creative, insightful economic analysis. This is the main rationale for providing training in this area. The proposed program provides training in the core analytical tools of economics (microeconomic analysis and econometrics), and specialized training and mentoring in the methods, topics, and data in health and mental health economics. The training is organized around a core seminar, specialized coursework, development of research and methodological skills, professional development exercises, training in research ethics, and mentored dissertation research. The proposed program's research area is the economics of health and mental health. While the program covers a broad set of issues and disease areas in the economics of mental health, it will emphasize particular topics that reflect its faculty's expertise. The core scientific discipline is economics, with focus on microeconomics, econometrics, and health economics. Yet given the interdisciplinary nature of scientific inquiry in mental health, a strong training faculty representing psychiatry, psychology, social work, actuarial sciences, and economics has been assembled. In each academic year we propose to have six predoctoral students in training;they will generally be at different stages of their studies. Virtually all trainees will be at early career stages, typically with 0-2 years of post-baccalaureate work experience;most have baccalaureate training in economics, statistics, mathematics, or public policy.
Given the significant concerns about how the mental health care system can deliver beneficial yet often-costly interventions in populations that may experience disparities in health outcomes and health care access and that may be vulnerable with respect to disease and economic resources, it is critical that public and private decision makers undertake their work supported by a solid foundation of economic reasoning and evidence. We take seriously the importance of training new scholars with the skills required to provide this knowledge.
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