Government of Canada and provincial partners support research addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians

News release

As the national COVID-19 pandemic response continues, the Government of Canada and provincial partners are joining forces to address the mental health and substance use challenges facing Canadians, which have increased because of the pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada's Minister of Health, announced an investment of more than $10.2M in COVID-19 mental health and substance use research. This investment will support 55 research teams from across the country to tackle the mental health and substance use crisis that is emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These researchers will address the mental health and substance use needs of individuals, communities and populations, and the effects on health care systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also develop evidence so that Canadians who need access to mental health and substance use services are able to receive them. Their findings will be used immediately to inform policy and practice to respond to this evolving crisis.

The funding is provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.


"The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Canadians' ways of life, changing how we act and how we feel. This crisis is taking a toll on our communities, especially the most vulnerable. To help those in need, we are investing in projects that will allow us to act quickly to ensure Canadians receive the mental health support they need to get through these difficult times. Congratulations to the successful teams for their important research – your work will have a real and positive impact on the lives of Canadians."
The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

"Canadians from all walks of life are struggling as they deal with the effects of the pandemic and the Canadian research community has rapidly mobilized to address these concerns. Evidence provided through these projects will be translated in near real-time, directly informing mental health and substance use health care systems and service delivery in Canada. This critical research is made possible because of the great collaboration between federal and provincial organizations."
Dr. Michael Strong, President of CIHR

"As Canadians continue to adapt to changing times and the ‘new normal,' mental health and substance use needs will not diminish. This research will provide urgent evidence to service providers and policy makers in a time when many Canadians are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. These projects will also address the impact of the pandemic on ongoing and increasing substance-related harms — including an opioid crisis that is already one of the most significant public health crises in recent Canadian history."
Dr. Samuel Weiss, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

Quick facts

  • CIHR and partners are investing more than $10.2M in 55 research projects focused on addressing the mental health and substance use challenges facing Canadians, which have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The projects announced today will focus on priority populations, including individuals who use substances; families, children and youth; vulnerable and at-risk groups; front-line and health care workers; public safety personnel; aging populations; and Indigenous Peoples and communities.

  • 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.

  • COVID-19 results in varying degrees of stress for many Canadians who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. The Government of Canada created Wellness Together Canada, an entire suite of online tools that offer Canadians different levels of support depending on their need, ranging from information and self-assessment tools, to the opportunity to chat with peer support workers and other professionals.

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Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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