Columbia University Global Mental Health Council Grants Program

About The Program

The Columbia University Global Mental Health Council Grants Program is an initiative of the Council for the Advancement of Global Mental Health Research to fund new investigators and new ideas in global mental health. All funds raised through the Council will support Council Grant Program recipients to complete innovative research in the area of global mental health.

Faculty listed on this program are the Core Faculty Review Group of the Council Grant Program.

The Council Grant Review Committee Co-Chairs are: Dr. Tahilia J. Rebello and Dr. Jeremy Kane

The Call for Proposals for the 2021-2022 Council Grants Program was released in February 2021 and closed on April 18th 2021. Applicants will be notified of application status via email during the summer of 2021.

All questions can be directed to: [email protected]

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2020-2021 Council Grants Program:

The first Call for Proposals for the Council Grant Program was released in May 2020 and closed on July 15th, 2020. Four grant proposals were chosen for funding for the 2020-2021 school year:

1. Ali Giusto, PhD & Milton Wainberg, MD: Leveraging community strengths to implement a task-shifted alcohol use and family engagement treatment for fathers in Kenya

This study aims to identify factors that will inform the implementation of a task-shifted intervention targeting alcohol use and family engagement among fathers with problem drinking in Kenya. Based on identified barriers and facilitators, a new implementation strategy will be developed to test and scale the treatment in a low resource setting. By addressing the burden of alcohol use, this intervention has the potential to lead to improve family relationships and reduce mental distress among fathers, their partners, and their children.

 

2. Lola Kola, PhD & Kathleen M. Pike, PhD: Responding to the challenges of Adolescent Perinatal Depression with digital video intervention

Mental health services around the world aspire to leverage technology to improve mental health services. This research project will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a digital health intervention to improve mental health outcomes for adolescents with perinatal depression in Nigeria. It will deliver short videos of evidence-based psychosocial interventions to groups of young women in the context of primary care. The research has the potential to improve accessibility and effectiveness of treatment among adolescent mothers, and to demonstrate the efficacy of digital health technologies to enhance the capacity of community care for mental health in low and middle-income countries.

 

3.María Elena Medina-Mora, PhD & Geoffrey Reed, PhD: Developing a methodology for estimating the Central American migrant population in Mexico and assessing migrants’ experiences and health and mental health status

This research initiative will test a methodology that could for the first time allow an accurate estimation of the size of the migrant population in Mexico as well as their health, including their mental health. While migrants’ wellbeing is often compromised by extreme poverty or violence in their countries of origin and traumatic circumstances experienced during their journey, little is known about migrants’ health and mental health status, associated problems and needs for services. This research will generate critical information that can be used by the Mexican government to address the needs of this population and prevent additional suffering and disease burden.

 

4.Sandrine Müller, PhD & Sandra Matz, PhD: The impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on mental health across the world: Using smartphones for assessment and intervention

Globally, widespread concerns exist about the mental health consequences of COVID-19. Drs. Müller and Matz will conduct a research project that leverages a unique dataset gathered from over 980,000 users of the mHealth app Moodpath across multiple countries. They will study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global mental health by conducting both between and within-person analyses and comparing the mood and depression trajectories of 2020 to those observed in the same time period in 2019. Given the global nature of the data, the researchers will be able to investigate mood and depression trajectories as a function of the global pandemic and diverse social policies and pandemic experiences.

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2019-2020 Council Grants Program:

The first Call for Proposals for the Council Grant Program was released in May 2019 and closed on June 30th, 2019. Four grant proposals were chosen for funding for the 2019-2020 school year:

1. Catherine Carlson, PhD, MSW; Laura Cordisco Tsai, PhD, MSSW; and Milton Wainberg, MD: Cultural adaptation of Safety Planning Intervention for survivors of human trafficking in the Philippines

  • Background: Survivors of human trafficking experience higher risk of suicide in comparison to the general population, and in the Philippines, there is a critical need for increasing the capacity of service providers to implement Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) and reduce risk of suicide.
  • Research Goals: The aim is to adapt the existing Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) and create a culturally-informed intervention for Filipino survivors of human trafficking, as well as strengthen the human resource capacity for suicide prevention within an economic empowerment program.
  • Impact and Progress: Throughout 2019-2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, the team worked with collaborators in the Philippines to complete the culturally-informed adaptation of SPI. The team trained 100% of the staff at the empowerment program, via a 5 month virtual training program, and the staff piloted the new suicide prevention protocol with human-trafficking survivors. During the pilot, there was a decrease in suicidal risk levels for 95% of the participating survivors, and now the team plans to disseminate these findings to improve the capacity of other anti-trafficking organizations to provide suicide prevention interventions for survivors.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.

2. Roberto Lewis Fernandez, MD and Manuela Orjuela-Grimm, MD, ScM: Coping with distress in a new context: self-coping and community resource utilization among migrant teens in the United States

  • Background: Teens migrating without a parent are frequently exposed to violence and hunger, and they could have elevated risk of PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety, and substance use disorders. However, there is evidence showing that post-migration factors (participation in community groups and clubs) can facilitate coping strategies (e.g. playing sports, praying) that contribute to positive mental wellbeing.
  • Research Goal: This study aims to develop a survey tool to measure the use of community resources and self-coping strategies among a group of 50 teens who migrated from Latin America without a parent, to inform a larger study examining protective factors for migrant teens in the U.S.
  • Impact and Progress: During 2019-2020, the team adapted survey tools and conducted virtual interviews with teens in NYC. Although the pandemic presented challenges in the pace and cost of the project, 52 youth were interviewed using the adapted survey tool, and the team also added a component to capture the impact of the pandemic on the migrant youth. The Council Grant not only helped to provide crucial research data that justified the submission of larger grant applications, but it also helped to facilitate strong partnerships among investigators dedicated to integrating mental health in the vision of migrant health.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.

3. Tsion Firew, MD; Claire Greene, PhD, MPH; and Milton Wainberg, MD: Developing a screening and referral system for mental health problems among internally displaced persons in Ethiopia

  • Background: Ethiopia is experiencing unprecedented levels of internal displacement countrywide. The government has identified mental health as a priority concern among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and agencies have invested in increased delivery of mental health services, but there has not been systematic monitoring of the availability of care in the communities.
  • Research Goals: This study aims to assess the existing resources available to IDPs and returnees in Ethiopia and develop a screening and referral system for displaced persons to gain access to appropriate mental health care.
  • Impact and Progress: In early 2020, research activities were delayed due to an emergency response focused on the pandemic by government partners in Ethiopia. However, as of February 2021, the team completed 16 in-depth interviews with mental health providers and humanitarian practitioners. The interviews have revealed the challenges to service delivery, but it also revealed promising strategies to increase access to mental health care. The Council Grant helped to provide preliminary data for the team to use in future projects to continue evaluating strategies that improve access to mental health care for displaced persons in Ethiopia.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.

4. Franco Mascayano, PhD Student; Ezra Susser, MD, DrPH; and Lisa Dixon, MD, MPH: Early Psychosis Identification Program in Chile

  • Background: In the absence of early intervention, psychotic disorders tend to become long-term disabling conditions. If individuals can receive treatment for psychosis shortly after initial contact with a healthcare provider, individuals can have greater improvements in short term and long term functioning. Currently, over 70% of the population in Chile receives health and mental health care via the public health system.
  • Research Goals: Using a technique that models the key dynamics and bottlenecks of the public healthcare system, this study aims to evaluate and then develop an Early Psychosis Identification (EPI) program that will improve the identification and referral pathways of individuals who experience first episode psychosis.
  • Impact and Progress: During 2019-2020, the team completed workshops with community members in Chile to develop the initial model outlining how individuals with early psychosis can obtain care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a second wave of workshops were held virtually with stakeholders to further discuss the specific factors that hinder and help individuals with first episode psychosis receive care. The initial results, made possible by the Council Grant, help to illustrate the historical and current trends of mental health care for individuals with psychosis in Chile.
  • To read a full summary of this research project, please click here.