Grand Challenges Canada relaunches the 'Global Mental Health Program'

Inadequate mental health is a fundamental threat to the rights of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. About three quarters of the global burden of mental illness is borne by populations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Mental illness continues to emerge as one of the leading causes of disability in LMICs; yet, resourcing for mental health consistently lags behind other health priorities. 

Strategies to identify and treat mental health challenges that are successful in higher income countries, however, are often impractical, ineffective, and too resource intensive to succeed in LMICs and with vulnerable populations. Building on previous experience and lessons learned, GCC is uniquely positioned to support innovations in LMICs to achieve sustainable impact at scale. It is only by scaling up innovations poised for impact that we can hope to achieve the progress in treatment, prevention and quality of care needed to reduce the global burden of mental disorders. This issue has been further highlighted by COVID-19, which poses new and unique mental health challenges while also highlighting existing gaps and disparities in mental health services, supports and understanding. 

This burden is further intensified for young people living in LMICs. It is estimated that 75% of all mental health disorders start before the age of 24. Youth in LMICs are also uniquely vulnerable to the vast social challenges that we are witnessing including climate change, gender inequities, economic insecurity and political instability. They have the challenge of contending with the biological, emotional and social changes of adolescence in a rapidly changing global context. Despite these vulnerabilities, only 12.5% of development assistance for mental health is targeted towards youth and the effect of this scarcity is clear. Depression is one of the primary causes of illness and disability among adolescents, and suicide is now one of the leading causes of death amongst young girls. 

There is a critical need for creative solutions to the pressing need to help improve the mental health and wellbeing for everyone, especially today’s youth. Grand Challenges Canada has supported one of the largest portfolios of global mental health innovations in the world, investing $43.8M CAD to support 95 projects across more than 31 LMIC countries. The newly relaunched program will build on these successes to: 

  1. Help the most promising global mental health innovations transition to scale, and 
  2. Put a stronger emphasis on the mental health of youth, in particular, girls and young women who are disproportionately affected by common mental disorders. 

For the past few months, Grand Challenges Canada has been working with subject matter experts, past global mental health innovators and youth with lived experiences with mental health challenges, to develop the youth-focused seed funding call for proposals. This call will be launched on May 19th, 2020. 

Further details will be available on the Grand Challenges Canada Global Mental Health program website

Please submit queries to 

Check out the MHIN Innovations Page for the mental health interventions funded as part of GCC's first Global Mental Health Program Funding Round

Middle East
North America
Central America and the Caribbean
South America
Maternal and neonatal health
Children and adolescents
Primary care
Specialist care
Empowerment and service user involvement
Prevention and promotion
Detection and diagnosis
Treatment, care and rehabilitation
Training, education and capacity building
Child behavioural and developmental disorders
All disorders
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