Ember impact evaluation paper published in BMJ Global Health

Ember Mental Health was launched by the SHM Foundation and the Mental Health Innovation Network in 2019 to support grassroots innovation in mental health around the world. Through 12 month partnerships, Ember e and funds excellent local initiatives in low-resource settings so they can grow and thrive, ensuring that more people have access to the mental health support they need.

Over the course of 2020-2021, Ember partnered with 12 initiatives in 11 countries. Over that period, SHM Foundation team members June Larrieta and Georgina Miguel Esponda carried out the first formal evaluation of the intiative.

We are excited to announce that the findings of that evaluation have just been published as a paper in BMJ Global Health. You can read that paper in full here here.

Here's the abstract from that paper to give you a flavour of what to expect:

Community-based mental health initiatives are uniquely positioned to understand the mental health needs of their local population and provide relevant, culturally appropriate and sustainable responses. However, at the grassroots level, mental health initiatives in low- and middle-income countries face key challenges, such as inadequate funding, barriers to demonstrating impact and difficulty engaging with stakeholders. The Ember Mental Health programme establishes 12-month partnerships with community-based mental health initiatives in low- and middle-income countries to support them to address these challenges, grow and achieve sustainability.

This paper outlines a longitudinal qualitative study conducted to evaluate the 2020-2021 Ember Mental Health programme. Data were collected from March 2020 to March 2021 through semistructured interviews conducted with 11 initiatives at various time points throughout their Ember Mental Health partnership. A framework approach was used to analyse all data in its original language. Findings indicated that initiatives particularly benefited from provision of side-by-side mentorship; opportunities for skills strengthening and strategic thinking; occasions to network with other like-minded initiatives and/or experts in global mental health; and support on team empowerment and well-being.

Based on these findings, we put forward various recommendations for funders and other stakeholders working to support community-based mental health initiatives in low- and middle-income countries. Through establishing collaborative partnerships that challenge more top-down, traditional funder–grantee relationships, it is possible to support the rich ecosystem of initiatives working to address the mental health needs of communities.


Larrieta J, Miguel Esponda G, Gandhi Y, et al. Supporting community-based mental health initiatives: insights from a multi-country programme and recommendations for funders. BMJ Global Health 2022;7:e008906.

Read the full paper here.

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