Depression is one of the most prevailing health conditions of the 21st century. The illness does not discriminate. It is a leading cause of workplace disability and represents a large financial burden for many families. But an international joint initiative is aiming to change all that.

The Challenge

Optimizing clinical care for people suffering from depression was the motivation behind the creation of EMBED (Enhanced Measurement-Based Care Effectiveness for Depression). Because measuring symptoms and side effects is still not routinely done in mental health care, the University of British Columbia’s Dr. Raymond Lam says it is often unclear how much benefit patients are getting from treatment.

The Solution

Co-funding a five-year implementation project to optimize clinical care, The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (under the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases’ mental illness funding initiative) set out to make it easier for both doctors and patients to track their outcomes and to collaborate in clinical decisions.

Fifteen mental health researchers from four countries (Canada, China, United States, Australia) are working on the project, including Dr. Jill Murphy, who is funded by a postdoctoral grant from Mitacs.

The Impact

The pilot project is taking place in Shanghai, China, using tools like Bounce Back, an online supported self-management program from Canada, and smartphone apps for patients to track their outcomes. Dr. Murphy explains that Mitacs plays a fundamental role in her work; through Mitacs, she has access to funding, project management courses, technology software.

The 5-year EMBED implementation project is set to run till 2022.