Schulich school of Medicine and Dentistry logo Global Minds

About Global MINDS @ Western

Mental health and substance use disorders are the leading causes of disability worldwide, and their burden is increasing. There is a large gap between needing and getting treatment, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs) and among marginalized groups in higher income settings. Up to 85 per cent of people in LMICs who need treatment do not get it, in part because current approaches to prevent, identify and treat mental disorders are inadequate and outdated. The lack of integration between health and other sectors further compounds the problem. The impacts of, and ultimately pathways to, recovery from mental illness also cut across sectors, and include education, employment/income support, labour and business, legal/justice responses, and human rights.

Global Mental Health Incubator for Disruptive Solutions @ Western (Global MINDS) is an Interdisciplinary Development Initiative of Western University, Canada. Our objective is to use social innovation approaches to catalyze the development, implementation, mobilization and evaluation of disruptive solutions for the wicked problem of reducing the global burden of mental and substance use disorders and related issues. Global MINDS is focused on innovating with and for low resource settings in low-/middle-income countries (LMIC) (e.g., East Africa region) and with and for local communities facing marginalization, including mental health inequities. Through community partnership, transdisciplinary collaboration and innovative pedagogy, we support students to become system leaders capable of making a lasting impact starting now.


A new paradigm for “mental health care” is urgently needed, one that reaches beyond the individually-focused healthcare system, to include family, community and system-level approaches that address socio-environmental factors such as early childhood adversity, trauma, violence and conflict, gender, poverty, stigma and discrimination.


Global MINDS uses a transdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach to catalyze the development, implementation, evaluation and mobilization of disruptive and sustainable solutions that reduce the burden of mental disorders and related issues in low resource settings and marginalized communities.  

Streams of learning & Guiding Principles

Global MINDS offers two streams of learning and development opportunities for students (the Graduate Seminar Course and the Fellowship Program) that are connected by shared principles and learning objectives. The context of the learning (whether for professional education, research intensive, or community-based learners) may vary, but the shared vision of Global MINDS connects each learner, faculty member, research project, community of practice, and teaching and learning opportunity.

Through transdisciplinary collaboration and innovative pedagogy, we empower students and faculty to lead change and make a lasting impact starting now. These are our Guiding Principles:

  1. Create a Culture of Innovation. The most important driver of innovation is culture. An innovative
    climate is one that cultivates engagement and enthusiasm, challenges people to take risks within a
    safe environment, fosters learning, and encourages independent thinking.

  2. Foster Cultural Humility. Working in international and cross-cultural contexts requires our
    learners and faculty to consider both the goals and processes of traditional/local cultural constructs,
    paradigms and approaches to mental disorders and professional education. This requires a process-oriented approach to cultural safety, a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, and a desire to attend to and repair power imbalances. 

  3. Participate Authentically. Achieve competence though authentic participation in situations that are
    real, dynamic and emergent, distributed across networks (communities of authentic practice) and a
    constantly evolving set of multiple and interconnecting people, tools, teams and work.

  4. Be Disruptive To Be Innovative.  A disruptive innovation is one that displaces an existing approach to produce something new, more efficient and effective. To create the conditions that lead to the development of solutions that disrupt existing approaches and static notions of mental health care systems, we need to first be disruptive in the way we communicate, teach and learn.  

  5. Build Communities of Practice. By leveraging across and within the disciplines such as medicine, health and social sciences, education, business, information and media studies and the humanities, we bring together people who are engaged and motivated to to tackle complex challenges in new ways.