Social Finance, a not-for-profit organisation, has partnered with the global charitable foundation, Wellcome, to launch the Data Prize in Mental Health in the UK and South Africa. The application process launches on the 4th of April and invites mental health researchers and data scientists to explore what existing longitudinal datasets can tell us about preventing, treating, and managing anxiety and depression in young people.
A total of £1.4 million will be awarded across three phases, with the top £500,000 prize to be shared between three winning multidisciplinary teams to research and develop a digital tool for mental health research.
Dr Catherine Sebastian, head of Evidence, Mental Health Challenge Area, Wellcome, said: ‘Anxiety and depression are already among the biggest causes of disability in the world and rising, but we still know very little about what makes a difference when preventing, managing and treating these conditions. Wellcome wants to change that by increasing scientific understanding and developing new and improved early interventions.’
Collaborative approaches and interdisciplinary learning are key to progressing mental health research, and the formation of multidisciplinary teams is an essential requirement to participate in the prize.
To involve those most likely to benefit from this new research, Social Finance set up a Youth Advisory Network. This enables a group of young people from South Africa and the UK with lived experience of anxiety and depression to input on decisions within the prize, from the overall design to how proposals will be evaluated.
Toby Eccles, Development Director at Social Finance, said: ‘The Mental Health Data Prize represents the bringing together of best practice from across disciplines – not only delivering novel research and tools to enable further research but doing so in a way that respects lived experience and local knowledge. This is an exciting opportunity to understand how existing data sets, data science methodologies, and iterative ways of working could provide a new format for collaborative research.’
The data prize will seek input around the questions: What active ingredients make a difference in preventing, treating, and managing anxiety and depression in young people? What works, for whom, in what contexts, and why? To help answer this, teams will explore longitudinal datasets from South Africa and the UK, such as Birth to 30 and the Millennium Cohort Study. These valuable resources allow researchers to assess how participants in the study develop over time and explore how a range of biological, social and psychological factors can impact mental health.
Dr Ekin Bolukbasi, Data Prizes manager, Wellcome, said: ‘Through the Prize, we want to encourage teams to use existing data resources to develop new insights on youth anxiety and depression. We’re hoping to hear from researchers and data scientists about the digital tools they need and fund multidisciplinary teams to develop them. I can’t wait to see what the teams come up with.’
The process will involve:
- Application deadline: 5th June 2022
- Team matchmaking to assist the formation of multidisciplinary teams
- Discovery phase from 8th August 2022: 10 teams will receive £40,000 across this phase to analyse existing data to answer their research question
- Prototyping phase (date tbc): five teams receive a further £100,000 funding to develop a tool for mental health research
- Sustainability phase (date tbc): £500,000 will be allocated across three winning teams to develop their prototype