Notice of upcoming funding opportunities
Mental Health and Substance Use Responses to COVID-19

The Government of Canada would like to provide information on two anticipated competitions to continue to mobilize high quality science to fight COVID-19, and to mitigate the downstream impacts of public health countermeasures. These competitions will focus on building and synthesizing the evidence base to address gaps in the mental health and substance use response to COVID-19, and identify relevant interventions. We are providing preliminary information at this time to allow the research community to prepare and respond to expedited processes.

CIHR is providing a linkage tool that is intended to facilitate connections and collaborations (domestically and internationally) should there be interest. This is not a mandatory tool. Information is provided on a volunteer basis and does not confer any advantages in the evaluation and funding of applications. Please note that potential applicants are not required to use the linkage tool or contact those who have submitted their information.

If you would like to use this tool, please complete a short form. The information you provide will appear on a public CIHR web page.

Expected research focus areas

Funding will be provided through multiple competitions designed to address COVID-19 mental health and substance use responses, focusing on:

  • Knowledge translation approaches and practices used to inform both population-level and targeted mental health and substance use responses during the pandemic. This includes resilience and wellness responses/approaches;
  • Population-based interventions to reduce potential mental health and substance use impacts of COVID-19 caused by factors including but not limited to: prolonged periods of social isolation, unexpected employment disruptions, school closures, financial distress, and changes to routine;
  • Targeted interventions to address the mental health and substance use issues and needs of high-risk groups, including but not limited to: front line medical workers, first responders, essential services personnel, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, individuals who use substances, individuals who are homeless or underhoused, recent immigrants and newcomers to Canada (including refugees), victims of domestic violence, children and youth, aging populations in assisted living and long-term care facilities and their caregivers, individuals with disabilities, and individuals experiencing complicated grief.
  • Innovative surveillance and monitoring in both the general Canadian population and amongst high-risk groups to assess mental health and substance use needs and system transformations (including the use of learning health systems, other modes of service delivery (e.g., virtual care), alternate remuneration models, etc.).

Requests for applications

Knowledge Synthesis Grants (up to $50K per grant): Funding to support rapid knowledge synthesis and related knowledge mobilization of current needs in mental health and substance use in the COVID-19 context. This could include, for example, examination of the impact in at-risk populations, development of guidelines, and evidence related to effectiveness of services or implementation of interventions. Knowledge syntheses can draw on a wide range of evidence, including from other public health emergency or disaster response contexts, to be assessed for transferability to COVID-19. Applicants are strongly encouraged to engage knowledge users throughout their activities. Knowledge mobilization plans should describe the application of this knowledge under current contexts (e.g., ensuring alignment with the potential needs of decision makers and other knowledge users). Knowledge syntheses and knowledge mobilization plans are expected to be completed within one month of funding. Successful grantees will have the opportunity to continue to update their knowledge syntheses over the course of the grant (6 months from the funding start date).

Operating Grants (under development): Funding to support implementation science and population-level intervention research to address the impacts of COVID-19 and containment measures on mental health and substance use. The operating grants are expected to be launched within a month after the launch of the knowledge synthesis grants. Application to the knowledge synthesis grants competition will not affect an applicant’s eligibility to apply to the operating grant program.

Please note that the source of funds for these competitions will not be from the cancellation of the Spring 2020 Project Grant competition but are a part of the strategic whole of Government of Canada efforts against COVID-19.

For research projects involving First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples: Appropriate consideration of TCPS 2: Chapter 9 - Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada, and demonstration of meaningful and culturally safe practices, plans and activities throughout the research project must be demonstrated.

Preliminary application details – Knowledge Synthesis Grants

Preliminary application details are being provided for the knowledge synthesis grants at this time:

  • The Research Proposal will be a maximum of 3 pages for English applications and 4 pages for French applications.
  • A one page summary will be required that addresses how the proposed knowledge synthesis is aligned with the identified research areas.
  • CVs will be required for the Nominated Principal Applicant and Principal Applicants.
  • CVs will be encouraged for Co-Applicants and Knowledge Users.
  • The CV required for this competition will be the CIHR Biosketch CV (completed through the Canadian Common CV) or the Applicant Profile CV (a 3-page CV to be completed in Word). The Applicant Profile CV template will be available shortly. Applicants can utilize either CV type.

Expected key dates for Knowledge Synthesis Grants

  • Launch of the full request for applications: week of April 27, 2020
  • Application deadline: week of May 4, 2020
  • Peer review completed: week of May 18, 2020
  • Anticipated notice of decision: week of May 18, 2020
  • Funding start date: May 1, 2020

Please also note that:

Data produced as a result of this funding must be shared in line with the Joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak. We also require applicants to ensure that all COVID-19 related publications are open access, in alignment with the call from the Chief Science Advisors.

Given the urgency of this funding competition, recruitment for peer reviewers will begin immediately. If you are interested and available to volunteer as a peer reviewer, please reach out to CIHR immediately at We thank applicants and peer reviewers in advance for their flexibility and understanding with respect to the need for this expedited process.

Please consult this page for all COVID-19 information related to CIHR.

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