Jun 12, 2020

Working with Wellcome Trust for a radical transformation of mental health science

CEI funded by Wellcome to review the evidence on which interventions are key in treating anxiety and depression in youth.



CEI is thrilled to be one of a select number of teams worldwide commissioned by the UK-based Wellcome Trust to explore which interventions work best for young people with anxiety and depression. The commission is part of Wellcome’s innovative new mental health strategy, specifically focused on depression and anxiety amongst the 14-24 age group. Its intention is a radical transformation of mental health science to learn what really makes a difference and what can be scaled globally.

Grace Gatera, a Lived Experience Mental Health Advocate living in Kigali, was part of the application review team. She says:

“The successful proposals have really touched something in me, as they make lived experience a priority in research and are focused on the end user. I’m looking forward to the work the teams are going to do that pave the way for a future of affordable, accessible mental health care for all young people worldwide, including those from low resource settings.”

Each commissioned team will be reviewing the evidence for one ‘active ingredient.’ The active ingredients are diverse and cover a range of options, from improving gut microbiome function to increasing financial resources via cash transfer and from the use of antidepressants to increased self-compassion.

CEI’s study will focus on problem-solving in the prevention and treatment of depression. The project is an evidence synthesis and will consider in which ways, in which contexts and for which populations problem-solving appears to work (or not) in the prevention and treatment of depression. CEI will initially centre our perspective by talking with young people about their lived experience of depression and anxiety and discuss emergent findings with them in sense-making conversations. CEI are delighted to be working alongside international leaders in the field: Professor Bryce D. McLeod from Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr Kristina Metz from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Wellcome’s goal is to work with the mental health science community to refine and review these initial active ingredients to develop a core foundational set that will work for the greatest number of young people, in the most contexts, globally. Professor Miranda Wolpert, head of Wellcome’s Mental Health Priority Area, said Wellcome was delighted to be working with a wonderful range of researchers worldwide to study which aspects of interventions really made a difference in preventing and treating young people with anxiety and depression.

“We see this commission into reviewing the evidence of which interventions work as the crucial first step in finding the next generation of treatments and approaches for tackling anxiety and depression in young people globally,” she said.

The project will underpin Wellcome’s work on advancing mental health science. Anxiety and depression hold millions of people back worldwide, and often have their genesis in youth. Jane Lewis, CEI Director for UK and Europe, will lead the project for CEI, and notes: “CEI are really proud to be founding members of the community advancing mental health science that Wellcome are building.”