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Investing in mental health: How to address critical gaps and higher needs

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Before the COVID-19 pandemic had even begun, the WHO predicted that mental health problems would be the main cause of mortality and morbidity by the year 2030. Now, we are seeing higher levels of need, disruptions to ongoing services and new challenges in providing mental health care. Yet, the gaps in our mental health systems are not new. Rather, COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on the preexisting crisis in mental health care delivery worldwide. In low and middle income countries up to 85% of people with mental disorders do not receive treatment. In high income countries that improves slightly to between 35%-50%. This is due to a number of factors, including difficulties around access, stigma, a lack of trained providers and/or affordable services.

Untreated and insufficiently managed mental disorders cost the world economy approximately $2.5 trillion USD each year in care and poor productivity. Despite this reality, globally less than 2% of national health budgets are allocated towards mental health. Moreover, the global development assistance for mental health has never exceeded 1% of the total for all health. Yet we have clear evidence that every $1 USD invested in mental health yields a $4 USD return. Where does that leave us? How do we best leverage the funds we have? How do we attract new investors and ensure sustainability in an area with low government uptake? One thing is clear: further investment in mental health research and innovation to develop new and better solutions is critical to address the world’s mental health needs.

This panel will bring together non-governmental funders of mental health research and innovation and mental health innovators from the global north and the global south to discuss paths to scale, areas in need of further research, funding mechanisms and what mental health investment looks like during and after COVID-19.

Confirmed Panelists

Tina-Marie Assi, Director of Targeted Challenges, Grand Challenges Canada

Nicole Bardikoff, Program Officer Global Mental Health, Grand Challenges Canada

Shane K. Green, Executive Director, AIM Youth Mental Health

Innovators: Social impact start-ups from the global north and the global south working in mental health services delivery.

AIM finds and funds the most promising youth mental health research in the world, while building a movement devoted to the mental health of children, teens, and young adults. With a world-class Scientific Advisory Board, AIM screen’s research from across the globe, looking for work with the greatest promise of making a difference now.

Grand Challenges Canada’s vision is: A world in which innovation accelerates the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. The bold ideas Grand Challenges Canada supports integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – known as Integrated Innovation®. One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, and with a feminist investment approach, Grand Challenges Canada has supported a pipeline of over 1,000 innovations in 95 countries. Grand Challenges Canada estimates that these innovations have the potential to save up to 1.6 million lives and improve up to 35 million lives by 2030. Since 2011, Grand Challenges Canada has invested over 43 million dollars CAD in global mental health innovations in over 30 countries.

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3 comments

  1. Increased awareness on Community Mental Health should be the major goal the world over in the midst of the “New Normal” life during the Covid 19 pandemic

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