mental health care and treatment

Vikram Patel talks with Denise Winn about practical ways to work towards mental health for all – and how the West can learn from developing countries.

People with mental health problems often fall through the human rights safety net. The mental health system has extensive powers to detain people, to deprive them of their liberty, to restrain them and to force people to take life-changing drugs. To ensure people's rights are not violated, these powers must be subject to rigorous checks and balances. Worryingly, however, we know this is not always the case.

Integrated Innovations to Improve Treatments and Expand Access to Care

Mental disorders are prevalent in all regions of the world, in every community and across every income level. An estimated 13% of the global burden of disease is attributable to mental disorders, with almost three quarters of this burden affecting people in low- and middle-income countries.

Grand Challenges Canada is seeking to improve treatments and expand access to care. We are committing up to $10 million CAD for the most promising bold ideas with big impact. Our focus is on low- and middle-income countries. We expect to fund proposals through two funding streams: seed grants (up to $250,000 CAD over 2 years) and transition-to-scale grants (up to $2,000,000 CAD over 3 years). Proposals must provide innovative solutions to address one (or more) of the following challenges in low-resource settings:

  • Integrate screening and core packages of services into routine primary health care
  • Reduce the cost and improve the supply of effective medications
  • Provide effective and affordable community-based care and rehabilitation
  • Improve children’s access to evidence-based care by trained health providers
  • Develop effective treatments for use by non-specialists, including lay health workers with minimal training
  • Incorporate functional impairment and disability into assessment
  • Develop mobile and IT technologies (such as telemedicine) to increase access to evidence-based care

Grand Challenges Canada is looking for solutions that demonstrate a clear path to scale and sustainability, have measurable outcomes of increased access to care and improved treatment, and can ultimately serve as models that can be replicated or scaled in other low-resource settings, or have lessons for other settings. Grand Challenges Canada does not fund capacity-building initiatives alone. We are seeking evidence-based, affordable treatments or innovative service delivery models that can be scaled in a sustainable manner.