COVID-19 Mental Health and Substance Use Research 


On October 9, 2020, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced an investment of more than $10.2M in COVID-19 mental health and substance use service needs and delivery research. This investment is part of a larger Government of Canada approach to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding for this research is provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF), the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (OMHLTC), and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF).

  • CIHR contributed $9,317,500
  • MSFHR contributed $100,000
  • NBHRF contributed $70,000
  • OMHLTC contributed $750,098
  • SHRF contributed $50,000

The total investment is $10,287,598.

This funding will support 55 research teams across the country that will tackle the specific mental health and substance use crisis response needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the strategies to contain and mitigate its impact. The research teams are located in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Québec, and Saskatchewan.

The research teams will concentrate their work on:

  • Understanding rapid system transformations in mental health and/or substance use services, by evaluating the ongoing health, social and economic impact of services transformation in the COVID-19 pandemic context; 
  • Supporting the development of innovative adaptations of mental health and/or substance use services, delivery and access, in response to the specific crisis circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Developing equitable and effective care delivery for people with mental health and/or substance use issues during the COVID-19 pandemic by better matching access to service with needs.

This investment is made possible through the COVID-19 and Mental Health (CMH) Research Initiative, a collaboration between CIHR, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. The CMH Research Initiative is rapidly providing knowledge and evidence to inform the mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CMH Research Initiative is guided by an Expert Advisory Panel composed of leading Canadian experts in mental health and substance use research, knowledge mobilization and service delivery in Canada. The expert panel is co-chaired by Dr. Catherine Zahn, CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and Dr. Samuel Weiss, Scientific Director of CIHR's Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction.

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