Danielle Kemmer

, Strategy & Initiatives at Graham Boeckh Foundation , Canada
Title : The Inequities of Mental Health Research Funding


The International Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders (IAMHRF) was founded to increase the impact of research investments. It offers a neutral, non-political, non-judgemental platform for global collaboration between research funders and builds bridges to other key stakeholders and global initiatives to help create an integrated mental health ecosystem. Its diverse membership makes it a unique alliance, and one that is ideally placed to develop a more equitable and impactful mental health research agenda.
Through targeted initiatives, the IAMHRF drives critical progress in the mental health sector with a focus on diversity, inclusivity and cultural and geographical suitability. Current focus areas include:
·         Common Measures – We host a community of mental health research funders, academic publishers and data measurement experts committed to adopting common measures in mental health science.
·         Lived Experience We promote and support the inclusion of people with lived experience throughout the research pipeline, from priority setting to conducting the research itself.
·         Mapping Funding – We conduct studies on the global landscape of mental health research funding to inform priority setting, future investments and policy-making.
The IAMHRF recently provided a first comprehensive measurement of global mental health research funding and identified how much is being spent, in what areas and by whom. Analyzing over 75,000 research grants awarded by nearly 350 funders from over 35 countries, the study paints a stark picture of a number of inequities that characterize global funding behaviour.
·         Only a small proportion of mental health research funding is currently spent in low-and middle-income countries and funding levels have been stagnating over the last 5 years.
·         There is significant underfunding of mental health research relative to other (physical) diseases.
·         The majority of research funded is basic, such as neuroscience, as opposed to clinical/applied.
·         Research tends to focus on adults, not youth or seniors.
·         Specific fields of mental health research – notably self-harm and suicide, eating, conduct, obsessive- compulsive and personality disorders – are relatively underfunded compared to other fields such as substance use and dependence, and depression.


Danielle Kemmer is Vice-President, Strategy and Initiatives, at the Graham Boeckh Foundation and Executive Director of the International Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders. Her interest is in promoting collaboration and unity within the mental health sector. With her background in research and research management, she has been instrumental in strengthening ties between the research community and key mental health stakeholders globally.