SFA Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada Launch $10.4 Million Partnership to Advance Youth Mental Health Research

The Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation) has unveiled an ambitious partnership, valued at approximately USD $10.4 million (CAD $14 million), in collaboration with Grand Challenges Canada through the Being Initiative. This landmark collaboration seeks to lead longitudinal research programs in low- and middle-income countries, with a particular focus on comprehending and predicting the enduring impacts of stressors, including COVID-19, urbanization, and emergency situations, on the mental health and well-being of young people.

Mental health concerns among adolescents are an escalating global issue, with one in seven facing such challenges. Shockingly, suicide ranks as the fourth leading cause of death for individuals aged 15-29. Alarmingly, up to 90% of young people's mental health needs in low- and middle-income countries remain unmet due to resource constraints. The consequences of untreated mental health issues encompass social exclusion, discrimination, stigma, and physical health problems.

The Being Initiative, launched in October 2022, is poised to collaborate closely with young people. It leverages research and innovation to enhance their mental well-being, emphasizing prevention and promotion to ignite positive and lasting transformations within local communities and beyond.

Dr Alphonsus Neba, Head of Programmes at SFA Foundation, underscored the transformative potential of this partnership, stating, "This partnership is a game-changer for mental health in Africa and beyond. With support from Grand Challenges Canada and other global partners, we can extend our reach and significantly impact the lives of millions of young people in low- and middle-income countries."

SFA Foundation joins forces with Being's global partners, including Fondation Botnar, Grand Challenges Canada (partially funded by the Government of Canada), United for Global Mental Health, and the UK's Department of Health and Social Care. Together, they aspire to enhance the mental well-being 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.

Nicole Bardikoff, Associate Director of Global Mental Health at Grand Challenges Canada, emphasized the critical importance of collaborative endeavours, stating, "As a collaborative initiative, the support of new and existing partners is vital to achieving our goal of improving young people's mental health and well-being globally."

SFA Foundation will play a pivotal role in supporting Being's objectives by overseeing cutting-edge research projects, strengthening research ecosystems, and empowering mental health professionals in the 13 priority countries. Their unwavering commitment ensures that the voices and needs of young people and individuals with lived experience of mental health challenges are heard and addressed.


Article by Jed Mwangi