Global Mental Health Incubator for Disruptive Solutions

Participating Faculties: Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Project Leaders: Professor Arlene MacDougall

Total Project Funding:  $200,000

Funding Period: 3 years


Mental health and substance use disorders are the leading causes of disability worldwide, and their
burden is increasing. They are also linked to an increased risk of death, both directly, for example
through suicide, but also because of their link to physical health problems like cancer and diabetes.
Unfortunately, there is a large gap between needing and getting treatment, especially in low and
middle income countries (LMICs) and among marginalized groups in higher income settings. Up to
85% of people in LMICs who need treatment do not get it, in part because current approaches to
prevent, identify and treat mental disorders are inadequate and outdated. A new paradigm for
“mental health care” is urgently needed, one that reaches beyond the individually-focused
healthcare system, to include family, community and system-level approaches that address socioenvironmental
factors such as early childhood adversity, trauma, violence and conflict, gender,
poverty, stigma and discrimination. The impacts of, and ultimately pathways to, recovery from
mental illness also cut across sectors, and include education, employment/income support, labour
and business, legal/justice responses, and human rights. The lack of integration between health and
other sectors further compounds the problem. Partnering with local and international initiatives such
as the Africa Mental Health Foundation, Western’s Centre for Research in Health Equity and Social
Inclusion and The Africa Institute, the new Global Mental Health INcubator for Disruptive
Solutions (“Global MINDS @ Western”) will create a ‘culture of innovation’ based on proven
entrepreneurial models that lead to disruptive solutions for reducing the burden of mental disorders.
With a key focus on emerging leaders, the cornerstone of Global MINDS is its Summer Institutes,
which will bring students and faculty from Western University and Africa together face-to-face
each summer to develop specific responses to the complex challenge of the global burden of mental