Upset child

24 April 2017

New Zealand has joined an alliance of the world’s biggest public research funding agencies to provide new research opportunities that target chronic diseases, starting with mental health.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) has joined the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD), with the support of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. GACD funds joint programmes into lifestyle-related or chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, lung diseases, and mental health. The alliance includes three of New Zealand’s major research partners: Australia, Canada, and China.

The HRC’s first initiative as part of GACD is to partner with the Ministry of Health to provide up to $2 million in research funding to discover better strategies to support Māori and Pacific youth with mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorders.

This initiative is part of a joint call for proposals launched by GACD partner organisations last year titled “Out of the shadows: Making mental health a global development priority”. GACD has extended the deadline for proposals to enable New Zealand to participate.

HRC Chief Executive Professor Kath McPherson says mental health needs urgent attention in New Zealand, and this is a great opportunity for teams of researchers, health care providers, and social workers to get together to introduce innovative strategies that will benefit some of our most at-risk young people.

“Mental health outcomes continue to be inequitable in New Zealand. Māori and Pacific people both disproportionately experience mental health issues. For example, in 10 of the 17 years from 1996 to 20121, Māori suicide death rates were significantly higher than those of non-Māori. Pacific people also have a higher prevalence of mental illness than the general population, yet are much less likely to access mental health services.”

“Mental illness can be something people shy away from talking about, but it is common and it can be devastating. We know that much more can be done to promote mental health. This investment aims to release innovation that will really work for our rangatahi and Pacific youth and their families,” says Professor McPherson.

Details for researchers interested in applying for funding under this initiative, including eligibility criteria and application forms, will be made available on the HRC’s website by the end of this month. Registrations will open on 1 May 2017, with full applications due by 2 June 2017
 
1http://socialreport.msd.govt.nz/health/suicide.html#ethnic-differences