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Funding for multidisciplinary networks researching mental health stressors among young people

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Youth represents a delicate phase of life, marked by emotional, cognitive and social development.

The Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation) has availed USD 10.4 million through the Being initiative to support multidisciplinary research networks that foster cross-continental collaboration geared towards understanding and addressing knowledge gaps related to the impact of emerging stressors on the mental health and wellbeing of youth. 

Youth represents a delicate phase of life, marked by emotional, cognitive and social development. Exposure to stressors such as pressure to conform with peers, unemployment, and academic stress during this distinct phase of life can affect brain development with detrimental effects on mental health. In this regard, around 50% of mental disorders emerge by age 14, increasing to 75% by age 24 (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005) with suicide representing a significant cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds (World Health Organization, 2021). Notably, in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) it is estimated that as much as 90% of the general population—including youth—do not have their mental healthcare needs met due to resource limitations (World Psychiatry, 2010). 

In 2023, the SFA Foundation joined Being's global partners that include Fondation Botnar, Grand Challenges Canada (funded in part by the Government of Canada), United for Global Mental Health, Orygen 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 LMICs that include Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Vietnam. 

Through the Being mental health initiative, the SFA Foundation has launched a call for proposals to fund cutting-edge research, strengthen research ecosystems as well as empower mental health professionals and innovators across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. 

 Funding will be allotted to researchers in priority countries whose networks comprise peers from other such countries and collaborators from across the globe. It is envisioned that the funded projects will promote global collaboration to understand and predict the long-term effects of stressors on young people's mental health and help inform treatments and approaches that effectively address these stressors.  

"Good mental health is pivotal for enabling personal growth, unlocking the potential of young people, and empowering them to contribute meaningfully to society. Through our support for this research, we aim to inform policy and interventions that promote a thriving youth but also to transform societal discourse from stigma to support. Together, the Being partners want to develop and cultivate a culture that embraces young people's mental wellbeing,” said Byron Bitanihirwe, the Programme Manager for Being at the SFA Foundation. 

The call encourages applications from early-career, mid-career, and established researchers to lead multidisciplinary teams whose work falls along the continuum of basic-translational-clinical-applied-operational research. 

Application Details

The Lead applicant must: 

  • Be a national or resident of a priority country. 

  • Hold a salaried academic or research appointment in a priority country. 

  • Applicants may be from disciplines not typically associated with mental health science (e.g. beyond psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience). 

 All applications must be submitted in English through the SFA Foundation Agaseke Grant Management System by Friday, April 19, 2024, 1700HRS (EAT). 

 For those seeking partners in the priority countries, a webinar will be held, providing an opportunity to meet potential partners. 

Click here to access the call for applications

Media Enquiries

Nyawīra Gīkandi
Corporate & Science Communications: [email protected] 

Enquiries for Applicants: [email protected]