NARSAD was created by an alliance of individuals and national mental health organizations to help increase private funding for mental health research and to raise awareness of the need for scientific research on mental health in general. NARSAD has a broad focus, recognizing that mental disorders represent a spectrum of related causes and through its grantmaking has sought to encourage a new generation of scientists to pursue a career in neurological and psychiatric research.
NARSAD provides grants to scientific researchers at leading national and international institutions. Grants are awarded for research projects to investigators at various academic levels and are recommended for approval by NARSAD's Scientific Council. NARSAD's largest program, the Young Investigator Award, is focused on stimulating the careers of young scientists at the post-doctoral to assistant professor level. Additionally, NARSAD offers Independent, Distinguished and Staglin Investigator Awards for scientists at the associate and full professor rank. NARSAD provides an active public information program for individuals, family members and donors on developments in current research with informational brochures, a quarterly Research Newsletter and symposia. An informational Helpline and web site provide updates on research developments, services and resources. NARSAD recognizes significant achievements in research with a series of prizes to investigators and community leaders.