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Bell Let’s Talk and Brain Canada award more than $4M in mental health research funding for pioneering projects

CBRF News, Mental Health, News January 25, 2022
Pictured here: Daniel Blumberger, Catherine Lebel, Martin Lepage, Manuela Ferrari, and Tarek Rajji are leading the research projects receiving funding from Bell Let’s Talk and Brain Canada

Five Canadian research teams receive major grants to address gaps in mental health care highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis

Bell Let’s Talk and Brain Canada are pleased to announce that five outstanding research teams have been selected to receive a total of $4,190,000 in funding support through the Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program. Launched in January 2021, this initiative supports the development of innovative solutions to provide effective, sustainable, and accessible mental health care for everyone in Canada. Brain Canada’s contribution is made possible through the Canada Brain Research Fund, with financial support from Health Canada.

“Across Canada, we have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating peoples’ mental health and substance use problems. Thanks to the Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program, and the hard-working researchers, more Canadians and Indigenous Peoples will have access to the mental health and substance use supports they need - today, and every day. Because there’s no health without mental health.” - The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

It is currently estimated that one in five Canadians will experience some type of mental health issue or illness in any given year, with 1.6 million reporting that their mental health needs are not being fully met. While some individuals benefit greatly, for many living with a mental health issue or illness, the options that are available are not always adequate. The pandemic has only highlighted the need for enhanced mental health research and care initiatives that address this.

By developing new and emerging directions and solutions for mental health challenges, the selected teams are advancing efforts to recognize and respond to the evolving mental health needs of Canadians.

The Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program recipient teams include some of the best researchers from across the country in the mental health field. The projects are:

  • A Randomized Sham-Controlled Trial of Accelerated Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation for Treatment Resistant Depression - team led by Daniel Blumberger, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
  • AID-ME: Artificial Intelligence in Depression – Medication Enhancement: A Randomized, Patient and Rater Blinded, Active-Controlled Trial of a Deep-Learning Enabled Clinical Decision Aid for Personalized Depression Treatment Selection - team led by Manuela Ferrari, Centre de recherche de l'hôpital Douglas - Douglas Hospital Research Centre
  • BEAM: Building Emotional Awareness and Mental Health in Parenting. An app-based intervention to improve postpartum mental health and support children’s brain development - team led by Catherine Lebel and Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen, University of Calgary
  • Promoting cognitive health in schizophrenia with online psychological interventions: A national implementation strategy centered on a digital learning platform - team led by Martin Lepage, McGill University
  • Optimization of Prefrontal Theta-Burst Stimulation to Treat Depression: A Bench to First-in-Human Study - team led by Tarek Rajji, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

“The Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program is helping to ensure our health care system is equipped with the best treatment options available. We are grateful for this partnership with Bell Let’s Talk as we continue working together to achieve meaningful impact in a field where there is still so much to discover. During the application process we saw a great amount of interest from many key research teams across the country, which is very encouraging for scientific advancement. Neuroscience, including mental health, is a critical research domain to invest in, for a healthier and stronger Canada.” - Viviane Poupon, President and CEO of Brain Canada

"On behalf of Bell Let’s Talk, I would like to congratulate these incredible multidisciplinary research teams on the work they are doing to advance mental health care in Canada. Now, more than ever with the impacts of COVID-19, we need to invest in timely research that will generate long-term benefits. The Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program is supporting innovative projects that will meet the rising demand for improved, more accessible and more effective mental health care.” - Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk

The projects were selected following a rigorous peer-reviewed grant competition that engaged an international panel in evaluating projects grounded in scientific excellence and with the potential to quickly address gaps in mental health research. To view the research projects, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

The Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program has been made possible by the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada. To date, Health Canada has invested over $130 million through the CBRF which has been matched by Brain Canada and its donors and partners.