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NIHR announces £30 million of new funding to support mental health research worldwide

Published: 10 October 2018

The NIHR has announced up to £30 million of new funding to support research into mental health in low- and middle-income countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in four people worldwide experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime, with around 450 million people currently experiencing such conditions. By 2020, mental health conditions will account for 15% of cases of disease in the world.

The new funding call, by NIHR’s Global Health Research Programme, will award Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding for mental health research to researchers in the UK and low- and middle-income countries working in partnership.

The funding will be awarded by NIHR’s Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) funding stream through a funding competition opening in January 2019. NIHR RIGHT funds cutting-edge interdisciplinary applied health research in key areas in low- and middle-income countries where a strategic and targeted investment can have a transformative impact.

The new funding announcement comes as politicians, policy makers and experts from across the world come together in London to share the most effective and innovative approaches to tackling mental health and psychosocial disabilities.

The first ever Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit aims to help countries work together to increase the evidence for mental health treatments, and to ensure healthcare systems around the world value mental health as much as physical health.

This new NIHR funding announcement represents one of the largest single public investments in global mental health research and demonstrates UK leadership in responding to this challenge.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “Mental health problems affect a significant proportion of people worldwide, with those in low- and middle-income countries often not able to access the treatments they need. Global mental health is under-researched and under-funded area, so I’m pleased that the NIHR is launching its first ever targeted funding call in this area.”

The NIHR already supports a number of global health research projects on mental health through its Global Health Research Units and Groups and its partnerships with other funders.

NIHR Global Health Research Units and Groups are delivering seven research projects with a mental health element, covering topics such as violence against women, psychosis outcomes, post-conflict trauma and living with multiple morbidities.

The NIHR is also supporting collaborations in mental health research worldwide through funding partnerships with the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the UK government’s Department for International Development.

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