Mental-health research needs more than private donations

 12 months ago       1119 Views

Keith Gibbs is a research analyst at The Royal and Keith Busby is a scientist at The Royal.

During an eight-year period (2008-15) CIHR invested about $44.7-million a year in mental-health-related research, compared with $133.8-million a year for cancer-related research; thus, mental health received only about one-third as much as cancer, even though mental illness carries the largest burden of illness (surpassing that of cancer) both nationally and globally.

In addition to the federal research investment through CIHR, there are more than 40 organizations that fuel cancer research, including several provincial agencies (e.g. Cancer Care Ontario) and voluntary organizations (e.g. Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation), that contribute more than $230-million a year to cancer.

In contrast, mental health lacks such large national, provincial and voluntary organizations dedicated to funding mental-health research.

This cultural shift is also perceptible elsewhere in Canada; for instance, the Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research in Ottawa recently received its largest-ever philanthropic gift – $6-million – that will be directed toward the establishment of a mental-health research incubator, Emerging Research Innovators in Mental Health (e-RIMh).

This endeavour will help six young scientists launch their careers in mental-health research.

Statistics indicate mortality and morbidity rates related to mental illness have not changed for decades; people suffering with mental illness live 10-17 years less than those who are not afflicted and 500,000 Canadians miss work every week because of mental illness.

Progress has been slow – the diagnosis of mental illness still remains symptom-based (that would be akin to diagnosing heart disease based on chest pain); we do not yet have blood tests or brain scans to identify specific mental illnesses.

Like other diseases (AIDS, cancer or heart disease), breakthroughs and improved outcomes have, in large part, come through research and innovation.

However, CIHR spends only about 4.3 per cent of its total annual research budget on mental-health research.

Author: @DailyCupofYoga

Source: theglobeandmail.com

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