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Our History

Founded by Dr. Charles Glisson in 1988, the Children’s Mental Health Services Research Center served as a branch of the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work for nearly 30 years. Under Dr. Glisson’s leadership, the Center studied thousands of abused, neglected, delinquent, and emotionally troubled children and their families from across the United States. A leader in his field, Dr. Glisson’s work paid considerable attention to the leaders and front-line staff of hundreds of mental health and social service systems nationwide, and the outcomes of thousands of children and families who receive services from those systems.

The Center has long emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary staff and faculty to facilitate better research designs and results, as well as an inter-institutional approach that draws on the expertise of outstanding collaborators from across the country.

In 2016, the Center was renamed as the Center for Behavioral Health Research. This change was made to better reflect the Center’s mission to improve the lives of America’s at-risk children and their families. Today, work within the Center includes research into mobile interventions for and epidemiology and prevention of substance use, homeless family services, psychiatric disorders, and HIV/AIDS.

The Center has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), particularly the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). A substantial amount of funding has also been provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), while additional projects have been supported by the W.T. Grant Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and other private foundations and donors.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.