Indianapolis Network Mental Health Study

The Indianapolis Network Mental Health Study (INMHS) was a long-term study of individuals making their first significant contact with the mental health system. Study participants had a diagnosis of a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder) and were recruited when admitted to the hospital. The focus of the study was the change over time in the social networks of the respondents, and how they told their stories of coming to treatment. Most respondents were interviewed four times in face-to-face, in-depth interviews. In addition, one to three "network contacts" were interviewed about the focal respondents at each wave of interviews. These respondents were also asked about their social networks and about their attitudes about the mental illness of the focal respondent. Confidentiality for respondents was carefully observed. Focal respondents gave permission to the study staff to interview their network contacts, and both focal and network respondents' interviews were kept private from each other, in addition to other confidentiality requirements.

Respondents were engaged in the project as 'first-timers'; that is, individuals early in their 'illness' careers, whose mental illness was bringing them to the hospital for the first time. Two Indianapolis hospitals, one the largest public hospital, and the other a private hospital, participated in the study. Respondents resided within the greater urban area of Marion County, in central Indiana. The study staff interviewed respondents, conducted SCID evaluation to verify diagnosis, and followed up with the respondents through four waves of interviews. Data collection was conducted over a 10-year period.

Two different types of comparison samples were developed, and one sample, respondents with less serious mental illness, was also interviewed in person. A second group of general population respondents were interviewed by telephone. The two comparison samples showed differences in changes in social networks over time. The in-person interviews lasted about two hours, while the telephone interviews lasted about 30 minutes.

Copies of the instrument are available here. Publications resulting from this study are listed on the Publications page. The study was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health.