Clinical research studies and clinical trials have play a vital role in finding new and effective treatments. When you participate in a clinical research study aimed at treating mental illness, you are helping in finding better ways to prevent, detect or treat mental health conditions. You may receive free treatment or therapy and even be paid for your participation.  Read more about clinical research and current opportunities in the Bay Area.


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About Mental Health Clinical Research and Studies

What is clinical research?

Clinical research refers to studies in which people participate as patients or volunteers. Different terms are used to describe clinical research, including clinical studies, clinical trials, studies, research, trials, and protocols. Clinical research may have a number of goals, such as developing new treatments or medications, identifying causes of illness, studying trends, or evaluating ways in which genetics may be related to an illness. The study volunteers can be people with diagnosed mental illness or healthy participants with no history of mental illness.

Strict rules for clinical studies have been put in place by NIH and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some studies involve promising new treatments that may directly benefit participants. Others do not directly benefit participants, but may help scientists learn better ways to help people.

For more information refer to NIH Publication No. 08-4379

Why Participate in Clinical Research?

Clinical research studies and clinical trials have play a vital role in finding new and effective treatments. When you participate in a clinical research study aimed at treating mental illness, you are helping in finding better ways to prevent, detect or treat mental health conditions.

Being part of clinical research gives you access to latest treatment options, medical examinations under the careful supervision of physicians and research team who are experts in that particular area of medicine. Some of the studies may also provide compensation for time and travel to the study to the research volunteers. Be aware that participating in the study does not ensure that you will receive the latest treatment. You could be part of the placebo group, or there may be unfavorable side-effects. However, since you are under the care of a dedicated team, you will be educated and quickly treated if there are any undesirable side-effects.

Choosing to take part in clinical research is an important personal decision. Your decision to participate will depend on your interests, needs, and expectations about research.

Confidentiality is an important part of clinical research and ensures that personal information is seen only by those authorized to have access. It also means that the personal identity and all medical information of clinical trial participants is known only to the individual patient and researchers. Results from a study will usually be presented only in terms of trends or overall findings and will not mention specific participants.

People sometimes think that participating in a study will require changes to their current treatment, but this is not always the case. Though some studies may require participants to try new medications or treatments, other studies use techniques such as brain scans, psychological tests, behavioral observation, or blood tests for genetic evaluation. Such studies may not require any change in treatment.
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Where to find Clinical Research in the San Francisco Bay Area

There are many opportunities to participate in clinical research in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of the studies may also offer some compensation for participation. Below are links to some of the schools and institutions that have current clinical trials that are open and seeking volunteers.

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 List of Current Research Studies

Want to know how clinical research trials work?  The attached flyer from the National Institute of Mental Health lists questions and answers about these trials.

Stanford Clinical TMS Study for OCD

Brain Stimulation Lab at Stanford University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is currently looking for participants with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for our 5-day accelerated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) study.

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Bolster Mobile App Research for Caregivers of Young Adults

University of Washington has developed Bolster – a mobile app designed to support caregivers of young adults with early psychosis. The Bolster app aims to support caregivers who are trying to help facilitate their loved one’s access to care, and thus aims to reduce duration of untreated illness. At this stage, we are looking to…

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NAMI Research – Role of Creativity on Young People’s Lives

NAMI is seeking the perspectives of individuals who work with young people on a regular basis to better understand the role of creativity in young people’s lives. In collaboration with an industry partner, NAMI is conducting a brief survey to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of creativity, as well as what factors make…

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Neuroimaging of Trauma (NeT) Research Study

The Neuroimaging of Trauma (NeT) study uses neuroimaging to understand more about how exposure to traumatic experiences in early adulthood affects the brain. Participants will be asked to come to the San Francisco VA Medical Center for several research tests, including a psychological interview, blood tests, and an MRI of the brain on 4 separate days, over the course of two weeks to 1 month. 

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The Ethics of Digital Mental Health Technology

The aim of the study is to learn more about the perspectives of mental health consumers on ethical issues, such as concerns about privacy or data protection related to the use of digital mental health. To participate in the study, you must be: 18+ years of age You have used or strongly considered using apps…

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UC Berkeley CALM Program Study: Understanding Suicide Attempts

The CALM Program at UC Berkeley is conducting a study of thoughts, motivation, and self-control among people who have attempted suicide in the past 5 years. To participate in the study, you must be: Between the ages of 18-55 years old Able to come to UC Berkeley campus for up to four 1-3 hour visits…

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Online Survey – Treatment Access in Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY NAMI is committed to ensuring that the most effective treatments for mental illness are available to those who need them. Determining which treatments are most effective requires research. When NAMI is approached to be involved in research of any type, at any level, we take it very seriously. NAMI’s Chief Medical Officer Dr.…

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Schizophrenia fMRI Research Study

Stanford Yoon Lab study utilizing fMRI to discover the brain circuits responsible for schizophrenia and translating this knowledge into the clinic to improve how we diagnose and treat this condition.

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Are You Angy? Behavior and Mental Health Research Study

Our research group in the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley is conducting a study to examine how different thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are related to decision making and psychological symptoms. We are currently seeking folks who have thrown things, hit someone, yelled, or are recovering from prior substance abuse.

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Stanford Teen Mood Research Study

The Stanford Neurodevelopment, Affect, and Psychopathology (SNAP) Lab is looking at how mood affects the brain and body. More specifically, patterns between biomarkers (like markers of stress/inflammation in the brain and blood such as cortisol, cytokines and brain functioning) and depressive symptoms in adolescents.

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Stanford Research Study for People With Social Anxiety

Do you get anxious in social situations? You’re not alone. Social anxiety disorder affects as many as 12% of Americans, and can result in significant distress and disability. Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the best treatments available, but as many as 25% of patients do not fully respond and we do not know why. This…

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