(WASHINGTON, DC – October 12, 2020) – Globally, mental illness is the leading cause of disability; it affects approximately 1 billion people and has annual costs of about $3 trillion. Unfortunately, significant investment has not been made to address barriers to care or to improve the fragmented and disjointed treatment system. To address these issues and others Dr. Victor Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) and Garen Staglin, founder and co-chairman of One Mind, are co-chairing a bold multi-billion dollar initiative, Healthy Brains Global Initiative (HBGI), that will mobilize radical partnerships, invest in research, and support breakthrough strategies to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses and neurological conditions.

Through strategic partnerships with health systems, scientific community, non-profit organizations, financial sector and private industry, HBGI will assemble leaders and innovators from around the world to understand and address mental illness and fund solutions. HBGI will establish a $10 billion financing mechanism with a 20-year plan to dramatically accelerate brain health research necessary to understand and develop new treatments and cures for all brain disease. . This initiative will deliver impact returns derived by governments and sovereign entities from the direct and indirect reduction of the global burden of mental illness.

Members of the NAM have been engaged at nearly every stage of developing the initiative and serve as leaders of the HBGI board and working groups, including Husseini Manji, Janssen Research and Development, LLC (Board of Directors), Steve Hyman, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Use of Proceeds Working Group); Chris Murray, University of Washington (Pay-for-Metrics Working Group); and Tim Evans, McGill University (Governance Working Group).

HBGI will fund implementation, translational and discovery sciences. Initially, HBGI will focus its efforts on younger populations, because 70 percent of mental illnesses manifest between the ages of 14 and 24. Focusing on that age group will enable the initiative to make the biggest impact. Social determinants of health, environmental factors, and prevention strategies will also be the focus of research and public health interventions during the initiative’s first phase. An early project will be focused on the impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of young people.

Dr. Dzau said, “Although this is not an official project of NAM, HBGI illustrates how the NAM can contribute to important global initiatives through its leadership, expertise and radical partnerships beyond the health and scientific communities.”

HBGI will launch in 2021 at the World Economic Forum in, Switzerland.

Learn more about the initiative, interim CEO Brad Herbert, and the 14 international experts serving on the interim board here.

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