Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health


The Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health Initiative was led by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease in partnership with the Wellcome Trust, the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The Grand Challenges Initiative provided a critical opportunity to bring mental, neurological and substance use (MNS) disorders to the forefront of global attention and scientific inquiry. The aim of the initiative was to identify research priorities that, if addressed within the next decade, could lead to substantial improvements in the lives of people living with neuropsychiatric illnesses.  A grand challenge was defined as a specific barrier that, if removed, would help to improve the lives of those affected by mental, neurological, or substance use disorders.

For the purposes of the Grand Challenges Initiative, the broad category called ‘mental health’ referred to factors (including disorders) influencing the health of the mind, brain, and nervous system. These conditions account for approximately 10% of the global burden of disease, as indicated by disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) reported by the World Health Organization[1] and the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study.[2] As a group, they are the leading causes of disability worldwide.[3] MNS disorders within the Initiative’s remit included depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcohol and drug use disorders, mental disorders of childhood, migraines, dementias, epilepsy, etc. Conditions with a vascular or infectious etiology were excluded, as these were addressed in previous Grand Challenges initiatives.