Community-Based Research Canada

Mental Health Commission of Canada discusses their CBR initiatives

CBR Canada invited the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to write about their community-based research initiatives for the Spring 2020 e-News. The Secretariat for CBR Canada, Centre for Community Based Research is supporting MHCC’s call for proposals which you will learn more about below.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has a rich history in community-engaged research marked by two landmark demonstration projects. The first of these, At Home/Chez Soi, helped inform a national shift in policy and dialogue towards Housing First as a response to housing/homelessness for people living with mental illness in Canada. The second, Roots of Hope, is a community-led suicide prevention intervention study actively underway in partner communities across Canada. Recognizing the importance of centering people with lived and living experience of mental health problems and illnesses and substance use, the MHCC was eager to find new ways to support community-engagement initiatives and to ensure lived experience perspectives remain central in all aspects of research.

Following the legalization of non-medical cannabis, the MHCC was tasked with helping to close research gaps on the relationship between cannabis and mental health, including both potential harms and/or benefits. With a suite of research investments planned, the MHCC recognized the significant contribution that community-led research investments could offer due to an emphasis on lived experience perspectives, the opportunity for community capacity building, and greater consideration for the social determinants of health and health equity. From 2020-2022 the MHCC will be funding up to 12 two-year projects (up to $50,000 per year or $100,000 per project) and the call for proposals is currently open (deadline May 29th). The grant opportunity is seeking applicants from priority populations including people with lived and living experience of cannabis use and/or mental health problems or illnesses; First Nations, Inuit, and Métis; immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural, and racialized communities; Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities; and from communities who experience layered oppression (e.g., homelessness, involvement in the justice system, sex work, and buying or selling street-level substances). The design of the research opportunity itself was largely informed by people with lived and living experience and from priority communities who came together at two different forums to express the most pressing issues related to cannabis and mental health and to map a community-based research agenda.

Text Box: “What I’ve learned, you can’t learn in school. [Researchers and organizations need to] honour expertise with actions, not words. Put your money where your mouth is.”  Ottawa Forum Participant, 2019

This research opportunity is intended to support teams with invaluable community experience.  We recognize that team members may be new to formalized research. To build capacity through the proposal development phase, the MHCC has partnered with six organizations with expertise in health equity, community-based research, and knowledge translation, including: the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR), the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH); Centre for Healthy Communities; Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK); the Wellesley Institute; and the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH).  These six “hubs” are available to mentor potential applicants through their proposal development and answer any questions teams may have related to the principles and methods underpinning community-based research.

By continuing to invest in community-based research, the MHCC hopes to provide a platform for lived experience perspectives and to ultimately help close research gaps in cannabis and mental health in meaningful ways. If you would like additional information related to this opportunity, please email