Grand Challenges Canada’s Global Mental Health program supports bold ideas to improve treatments and expand access to care for mental disorders, through transformational, affordable and cost-effective innovations that have the potential to be sustainable at scale.
Mental disorders contribute to 14 percent of the global burden of disease worldwide; 75 percent of this burden occurs in low- and middle-income countries, where scarce resources and a shortage of trained professionals mean individuals living with mental disorders have limited access to evidence-based treatments. Even in contexts where treatment is available, widespread stigmatization faced by those living with mental illness means that they are often unwilling or unable to access this care.
Grand Challenges Canada’s mental health program focuses on funding innovations that can improve treatments and expand access to care across a range of priority areas, such as community-based care, developing treatments for use by nonspecialists, improving children’s access to care, and improving the supply of medication. The goal is to flip the gap: currently only 10 percent of people with mental health conditions have access to treatment and care; we want to reverse this so that 90 percent have access to high-quality, evidence-based treatment and care instead.
Progress Against the Challenge
Through 2016–17, Grand Challenges Canada invested $42 million CAD in 85 projects in 31 countries, as illustrated below.
These projects have enabled 159,000 individuals to access and use treatment, with 20,000 individuals who have symptomatic improvement. By 2030, this impact will increase to between 1.1 million to 3.2 million individuals who will access and use treatment, with 297,000–844,000 who will have symptomatic improvement. In addition, the projects supported by the portfolio have influenced 17 policies, including changes to essential medicines lists and health worker training curricula. Through this program, Grand Challenges Canada has invested in 18 projects in emergency settings that target highly vulnerable populations.
Mental Health Innovation Network
Grand Challenges Canada supports the Mental Health Innovation Network. Investment in the Mental Health Innovation Network ($3.6 million CAD) and annual community meetings has increased the capacity of innovators to evaluate impact, communicate results and leverage resources for mental health.
The Network’s activities are supported by a team of researchers and policy-makers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s Centre for Global Mental Health and the World Health Organization’s Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse.