Wednesday, September 27, 2023
For Immediate Release: 27 September 2023
Nairobi, Kenya — The Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation) is thrilled to announce a partnership of approximately USD $10.4 million (CAD $14 million) with Grand Challenges Canada through the Being Initiative to manage longitudinal research programmes in low- and middle-income countries to understand and predict the long-term effects of stressors (such as COVID-19, urbanization, and emergency circumstances) on young people's mental health and wellbeing.
One in seven adolescents worldwide face mental health conditions, and suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. In low- and middle-income countries, up to 90% of young people’s mental health needs are unmet due to a lack of resources. Young people facing mental health challenges are vulnerable to social exclusion, discrimination, stigma, and physical health problems. It is therefore crucial to prioritize and invest in young people’s mental health to ensure their wellbeing in adolescence and adulthood.
Launched in October 2022, the Being Initiative will work together with young people to improve their mental wellbeing through research and innovation. By focusing on mental health prevention and promotion, Being aims to create positive, lasting change in local communities and beyond.
Dr Alphonsus Neba, SFA Foundation Head of Programmes, emphasised the importance of this partnership, noting the anticipated impact of the available resources. "This partnership is a game-changer for mental health in Africa and beyond. With the support from Grand Challenges Canada and other global partners, we can expand our reach and make a meaningful impact on the lives of millions of young people in low- and middle-income countries.”
SFA Foundation is joining Being’s global partners, including Fondation Botnar, Grand Challenges Canada (funded in part by the Government of Canada), United for Global Mental Health, and the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care using UK aid through the National Institute for Health and Care Research to improve the mental wellbeing of young people aged 10 to 24 in thirteen priority countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Vietnam.
"As we work to support the mental health needs of young people, particularly those most impacted by mental health challenges, we know the importance of harnessing the power of invaluable partners committed to young people's wellbeing, and we're thrilled to be joined by SFA Foundation. As a collaborative initiative, the support of new and existing partners is vital to achieve our goal of improving young people's mental health and wellbeing globally,” said Nicole Bardikoff, Associate Director, Global Mental Health at Grand Challenges Canada.
SFA Foundation will play a crucial role in supporting the Being’s objectives by overseeing cutting-edge research projects, strengthening research ecosystems, and empowering mental health professionals in the 13 priority countries while ensuring that the voices and needs of young people and individuals with lived experience of mental health challenges are heard.
About the SFA Foundation
The SFA Foundation is a pan-African, non-profit, and public charity organisation that supports, strengthens, and promotes science and innovation in Africa. The SFA Foundation serves the African research ecosystem by funding excellent ideas in research and innovation; enabling interdisciplinary collaborations and building and reinforcing environments that are conducive for scientists to thrive and produce quality research that generates new, locally relevant knowledge.
Innovating for Young People’s Wellbeing
Being is an international mental health initiative working toward a world where young people feel well and thrive. We’re working together with young people to improve their mental wellbeing through research and innovation. By focusing on mental health prevention and promotion, Being aims to create positive, lasting change in local communities and beyond. We’re hosted by Grand Challenges Canada (funded in part by the Government of Canada) in partnership with Fondation Botnar, The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, using UK aid through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the Science for Africa Foundation, and United for Global Mental Health.