The History of MIMH

MIMH 50th anniversary video

The Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH) was established as the Missouri Institute of Psychiatry (MIP) in October 1962 by George A. Ulett, M.D., on the grounds of St. Louis State Hospital as the research and teaching arm of the Missouri Division of Mental Diseases, now the Department of Mental Health (DMH). The University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) took over operation of MIP in 1965. The establishment of the institute quickly led to a drastic reduction in hospital overcrowding, a new psychiatric residency training program, full-time psychiatric care for patients, an end to racial segregation in city psychiatric facilities, and the first treatment program for alcoholism in St. Louis.

The institute’s original mission was to address a critical shortage of mental health professionals by training and retaining clinicians for public psychiatry in Missouri. Between 1963 and 1980, the five-year Psychiatric Residency Training Program graduated over 180 psychiatrists, nearly half of whom served the DMH for at least two years, which more than quadrupled their number of fully trained psychiatrists. The institute also conducted clinical research with chronic patients at St. Louis State Hospital.

During those initial years the Institute’s Mental Health Systems Research Unit (MHSRU, later renamed the Behavioral Health Unit) created and implemented the Standard System of Psychiatry (SSOP), one of the first clinically oriented information systems in the world. Over the years, the MHSRU gained an international reputation for computer applications in mental health and provided technical support to DMH. The Institute continues to be on the forefront of behavioral informatics.

In 1980, the Continuing Education Program, now the Center of Prevention, Outreach, and Professional Education, was established as a research seminar series, which grew into the Visiting Speaker Series, a lecture series featuring internationally known researchers that reaches out to clinicians in the field and complements numerous institute-administered training programs for Missouri’s mental health professionals.

August 1991 brought a change in leadership and focus when clinical psychologist Danny Wedding, Ph.D., became the new director of the renamed Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH). Under Dr. Wedding’s direction, the institute concentrated on health care policy and expanded into policy research, program evaluation and public education about mental and addictive disorders. In 2010, Dr. Wedding was succeeded by Dr. Joe Parks, the Chief Clinical Officer of DMH. Later that year, MIMH moved academic affiliations to University of Missouri – St. Louis as part of the Office of Research Administration under the leadership of Dr. Nasser Arshadi, Vice Provost for Research.

In 2014, Dr. Joe Parks was succeeded by Dr. Rob Paul, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Paul, who has been a clinical brain scientist for nearly 20 years, joined the faculty at UMSL in 2006. He has published more than 200 scientific research studies on brain function, and his research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1998. Paul is actively involved in collaborative research programs domestically and internationally with a particular focus on NeuroAIDS.

In addition to getting a new director, MIMH also received a new home in a state-of-the-art facility. The institute has relocated from the “Dome Building” on Arsenal Street in south St. Louis to Innovative Technology Enterprises UMSL’ s incubator for startup companies located at 4633 World Parkway Circle in St. Louis County.

Over the past decade, MIMH has informed new knowledge that supports the mental health and wellbeing of persons with behavioral health problems through research and evaluation, policy development, technological innovation, and training. Today, MIMH is poised to become one of the country’s finest health services research organizations dedicated to serving the state and the nation by improving the delivery of behavioral health services.


MIMH’s mission is to improve and transform mental health outcomes through innovative research and program development, program evaluation, community outreach, and professional training.


Our vision is to improve lives through the promotion of mental health.