Special Initiative in Mental Health

What is the Special Initiative in Mental Health?

The Special Initiative in Mental Health is an initiative that will support a multidisciplinary, nationally focussed team to establish a national centre for innovation in mental health care as a collaborative network across Australia that will undertake innovative high quality implementation research to improve health outcomes and outlooks for people living with mental illness in defined areas of need.

The Special Initiative in Mental Health (SIMH) will operate as a virtual network across Australia, coordinated by a single institution, through a series of flagship programs and be open to a broad membership of researchers, health care services, carers and consumers in mental health to facilitate innovative service delivery across Australia.



Mental health is a strategic priority of NHMRC. Over the last two years, NHMRC has been working with the mental health research community to understand the current spread of investments in mental health, key areas of research need and how a strategic investment by the NHMRC would
be best placed. As well, NHMRC has consulted with key mental health policy and funding bodies to explore opportunities for this strategic investment to complement other initiatives.

In September 2017, NHMRC established the Mental Health Research Advisory Committee (MHRAC), drawn from the health and medical research sector, to advise on priorities in this area. From the advice of MHRAC a stakeholder workshop was convened to refine the parameters for a
NHMRC special initiative in mental health research.



The objectives of the Special Initiative in Mental Health are to:

  • focus (at least initially) on the following outcome areas (core research themes):
    • improving experience of care through more effective and innovative models of care and health system redesign, and
    • reducing early mortality through evidence-based strategies for addressing physical, behavioural, psychological and other determinants
  • foster innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to mental health by bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders with lived experience and professional expertise to define the issues, provide evidence for solutions, deliver improved health outcomes and outlooks for people living with mental illness, and
  • engage and develop the next generation of mental health research leaders

The intended outcomes of the Special Initiative in Mental Health are:

  • long term partnerships between research, health care and service delivery to translate research findings into improved outcomes
  • developing and extending widespread collaborative networks in Australia, and
  • building and developing mental health research capacity.



NHMRC has allocated a total of up to $10 million to support a single collaborative research project.


Eligible Projects

Funding provided by NHMRC for a Research Activity must be spent on costs directly incurred in that Research Activity that satisfy the principles and requirements outlined in the Direct Research Costs Guidelines on the NHMRC website.

Special Initiative in Mental Health funds are for research cost expenditure in Australia. Funding may be used to support specific grant activities to be undertaken overseas, including salary support for overseas based research support staff, if the overseas grant activity is critical to the successful completion of the project, and the equipment/resources required for the grant activity are not available in Australia.


Eligible Applicants

Applications will only be accepted from NHMRC-approved Administering Institutions. A list of NHMRC-approved Administering Institutions is available on NHMRC’s website.



Applications close 15 July 2020.


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