About The Program

The Small 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 Small Grants Program grant recipients to complete innovative research in the area of global mental health.

Faculty listed on this program are the Small Grants Program Core Faculty Review Group.

The first Call for Proposals for the Small Grants 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

Survivors of human trafficking experience elevated suicide risk in comparison to the general population. Anti-trafficking service providers in the Philippines have identified capacity building in suicide prevention as a critical priority for the sector given the insufficient number of trained mental health professionals and lack of culturally adapted evidence-based interventions in the Philippines. In this project, we will develop a culturally informed adaptation of Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) and training service providers within a trafficking-specific economic empowerment program in the Philippines on implementation of the culturally-adapted intervention. Lessons learned in the cultural adaptation, capacity building, and piloting process will be shared with other anti-trafficking organizations in the Philippines to strengthen the capacity of local systems. The project will inform the development of a subsequent R21 proposal to NIMH to pilot the effectiveness and implementation SPI with trafficking survivors in the Philippines.

We aim to: 1) develop a culturally-informed adaptation of Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) within an economic empowerment program for Filipino survivors of human trafficking; 2) build human resource capacity for suicide prevention within an economic empowerment program; and 3) pilot for acceptability and feasibility SPI for suicide prevention for Filipino trafficking survivors within an economic empowerment program.


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

Exposure to violence and hunger during the critical late-adolescent period of development (ages 15-19) can have a lasting impact on mental and physical health. Teens migrating without a parent are frequently exposed to violence and hunger, and European studies show that such youth have elevated risk of PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety, and substance use disorders. However, post-migration protective factors such as use of community resources (sports clubs, church youth groups) that facilitate self-coping strategies (e.g., playing soccer together, praying) appear to be key contributors to their mental health trajectory. Our novel pilot study, CAMINANDO, has recruited 42 such teens in partnership with community organizations in NYC and found that increased exposure to violence is associated with higher symptoms of PTSD, generalized anxiety, and depression and increased exposure to hunger is associated with higher symptoms of generalized anxiety. In preparation for our proposed longitudinal R01 (CAMINANDO-Mental Health [MH]) to further examine the impact of exposure to hunger and violence on the mental health of teen migrants, we will adapt an instrument developed for internally displaced Colombian youth for use in our study population in NYC. We propose a two-stage, mixed-methods approach that will result in a tool to assess utilization of community resources and self-coping strategies pre and post-US arrival in a group of 50 teens who migrated from Latin America without a parent.

Our goals are to: a) inform a larger longitudinal study examining potential post-migration protective factors and b) provide a tool that can be used to measure resource utilization and self-coping in the large number of Latin American migrant teens currently resettled in the US.


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

Ethiopia is experiencing unprecedented levels of internal displacement countrywide. The Ethiopian Ministry of Health has identified mental health as a priority concern among internally displaced persons (IDPs). During the IDP crisis, the Ethiopian government and humanitarian agencies have invested in training non-specialists to deliver mental health services, but the implementation and availability of mental health care in these communities has not been systematically monitored. The proposed research aims to identify existing resources for mental health in IDP communities and develop a referral system to link IDPs with mental health problems to services. This research is timely given the planned national mental health assessment of IDPs in Ethiopia, which will require a protocol for these referrals.

The overall objective of this study is to assess existing resources for mental health services in order to develop and monitor a feasible screening and referral system for mental health problems among IDPs and returnees in Ethiopia. Specifically, we aim to: 1) Assess the formal mental health resources available to IDPs and returnees in Ethiopia; 2) Develop and evaluate the feasibility of implementing a screening and referral system for IDPs and returnees with mental health problems; and 3)Monitor the implementation and completion of referrals to mental health services among IDPs and returnees who participate in the national mental health assessment.


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

In the absence of early intervention, psychotic disorders tend to become long-term disabling conditions. The shorter the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), the greater the improvements of short and long-term clinical and functional outcomes. Given that approximately half of DUP may occur after health services are initiated, we suggest that a focus on enhancing health services once help-seekers come into contact with providers may be required. This approach is of particular relevance for Chile, where over 70% of the population receive health and mental health care via the health public system. Accordingly, we propose to develop an Early Psychosis Identification (EPI) package comprising outreach and engagement strategies to improve early psychosis identification based on the analysis of the gaps and bottlenecks in existing referral pathways within health services in Chile. We will use a Group Model Building approach, which is a system dynamics-based method that has been used to guide the adaption and implementation of evidence-based practices in varying health settings. Our approach will entail engaging key stakeholders in identifying causal loop diagrams (including variables, relationships, and feedback) that represent the main factors affecting the identification of early psychosis in health services, in order to inform the development and implementation of the EPI package.

Our specific aims are to: 1) Improve our understanding of the gaps and bottlenecks for identification and referral of early psychosis within health services in Chile. 2) Use this understanding to inform the design of the EPI package to improve early identification and engagement. 3) Create a preliminary version of the EPI package to be disseminated and discussed among stakeholders in Chile and other Latin American countries. 4) Develop a grant application aimed at studying the implementation and effectiveness of the EPI package.


The next Call for Proposals for the Small Grants Program will be available in Summer 2020. More information will be available on this website as it becomes available.