The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Institute of Health), also ISS, is an Italian public institution that, as the leading technical-scientific body of the Italian National Health Service performs research, trial, control, counseling, documentation and training for public health.
As a part of ISS, the Mental Health Unit aims at promoting mental health not only among psychiatric patients, but also among their relatives and the general population, by means of:
- independent and methodologically sound scientific research;
- mental disorders surveillance;
- evaluation studies of primary and secondary prevention interventions;
- promotion of quality in mental health services.
The main activities of the Unit are the following:
- organization and implementation of a surveillance system to collect and report new cases of specific mental health disorders that present for the first time to mental health services;
- organization and implementation of interventions for mental health promotion in schools;
- organization and implementation of screening activities for mental health disorders in primary care;
- application of global epidemiologic approach to mental health disorders including traditional studies on frequency and risk, genetic epidemiologic studies, evidence-based systematic reviews on effectiveness of medical and psychosocial treatments;
- development and selection of instruments and indicators for quality improvement of mental health services;
- design and conduction of controlled trials on psychosocial interventions;
- studies on psychiatric and psychosocial aspects of physical diseases and on the interrelations between mental and physical health;
- development and validation of instruments for assessment of psychopathology, psychological wellbeing, social functioning, stress, personality and the risk factors of various mental and physical diseases.