Mental health challenges contribute to 14 percent of the global burden of disease worldwide; 81 percent of this burden occurs in low- and middle-income countries. Individuals living with mental health challenges in these regions experience a scarcity of resources and a shortage of trained professionals, limiting their access to evidence-based treatments. Support for mental health services in low- and middle-income countries consistently lags behind other health priorities, despite the fact that mental health challenges are a prominent global health concern.
The global mental health burden is magnified for youth living in low resources settings. The majority of mental health challenges – 75 percent – start before the age of 24. Poor mental health in youth negatively impacts the development of social connections, cultural belonging, emotional wellbeing, educational opportunities, and economic resources. The majority of these challenges can be addressed and supported if mental health conditions are identified and treated early. Despite this, only 12.5 percent of development assistance for mental health targets youth. With the added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, this critically neglected cohort needs more investment and innovation.
The Global Mental Health program seeks transformational, affordable, and accessible innovations that have the potential to be sustainable at a larger scale. We fund early-stage seed innovations that target youth mental health as well as later-stage Transition-to-Scale innovations addressing mental health challenges across the lifespan.
By investing in innovations that integrate mental health care into education, health, and social care settings in low- and middle-income countries, Grand Challenges Canada supports person-centered, community-based mental health services that meet people where they are.
The Global Mental Health program has launched its second round of funding. Seed grants of up to $250,000 CAD are available for innovations that seek to enhance mental health literacy and/or provide youth-friendly services to address the mental health needs of the most underserved young people, aged 10 – 24, in low- and middle-income countries.
Innovations must take a person centered, rights-based approach, and must involve young people and young people with lived experiences of mental health challenges from the outset.
Priority will go to youth-led organizations, defined as organizations in which fifty percent (50%) or more of the individuals in key leadership positions are youth 35 years of age or under.