Partnership enables new Brain Canada initiative addressing research and care gaps highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis

January 26, 2021 – Brain Canada and Bell Let’s Talk today announced the new Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program to accelerate Canadian brain research while helping to address the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health care. Funding for the program is made up of a $2 million gift from Bell Let’s Talk matched by the federal government through the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF).

“As brain health becomes an increasingly prominent societal issue, there is a growing need for scientific data to support new treatments,” said Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor. “This new research program is taking great steps to address the complexity of these challenges by promoting collaborative and cross-disciplinary research.”

“We’re proud to partner with the federal government and Brain Canada to invest in timely research that will make a major contribution to effective, sustainable and accessible mental health care now and over the long term,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “The Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program supports novel and transformative research that aims to accelerate the integration of emerging scientific knowledge into developing and improving mental health care.”

The COVID crisis has highlighted the need for enhanced mental health research and care initiatives: more than 60% of Canadians who struggle with a mental illness, and 40% of all Canadians, say their health has declined since the onset of COVID-19.

“The time to act is now,” said Brain Canada CEO and President Dr. Viviane Poupon. “This research program comes at an important juncture. The next wave of the pandemic will be the mental health crisis. We must ensure our health care system is equipped to meet the rising demand for mental health resources, services and treatment options. To make advances in this space, we need to utilize new and emerging knowledge and find ways to implement it to achieve meaningful outcomes for Canadians.”

“We are all living through a stressful period, and we know that Canadians are currently experiencing a deterioration in their mental health,” said Dr. Gustavo Turecki, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, and Co-Director of the Douglas – Bell Canada Brain Bank based at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. “The new research funding opportunity from Bell Let’s Talk and Brain Canada comes at a critical time. It will inspire scientific breakthroughs – and ultimately it will fund research that will contribute to improving the mental health of Canadians.”