Mental Health Data Prize Africa

Mental Health Data Prize Africa


The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) is a leading Africa-based, African-led, international research institution headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. APHRC conducts policy-relevant research on population, health, education, urbanization, and related development issues in sub-Saharan Africa. Our vision is to transform African lives through research and we highly engage in evidence generation, strengthening research and related capacity in the African R&D ecosystem, and informing policy to action on health and development. Informed by global and continental development priorities, APHRC’s teams orient their research agendas, driven by the belief that Africa and African-generated evidence must be at the forefront of decisions supporting improved growth and development. Key to the Centre’s strength as a collaborator as well as an independent evidence generator is its commitment to excellence in the design and implementation of projects.

The center carries out its work through four critical thematic areas: Health and Wellbeing, Human Development, Population Dynamics and Urbanization and Data Science and Evaluation. Within these thematic areas, advancing the science of mental health in Africa is one of APHRC’s strategic objectives. The mental health strategic vision 2020- 2026 aims to transform the mental health ecosystem in Africa, and understand the trajectory and resolution of mental health conditions through capacity-building programs, evidence based multi-level strategies, and evidence generation, sharing and consensus building on the diagnosis, treatment of mental health conditions and timely delivery of mental health services and care in Africa.

About Mental Health Data Prize Africa

The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) together with our partner, Wellcome, aims to drive a transformative change in areas related to anxiety, depression and psychosis. This Data Prize initiative aims to attract a critical mass of diverse African participants, who will subsequently be invited to participate in multidisciplinary projects to understand and to develop new solutions that can address mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis and the related role of data or evidence in the process. The project aims to understand what works in preventing, treating and managing anxiety, depression and psychosis and to drive a transformative change in the African context in ways prioritized by the people who experience these problems.

We encourage mental health researchers and scientists across Africa to use existing data to answer mental health-related research questions linked to anxiety, depression and psychosis, and to improve understanding of its trajectory within African contexts. A multidisciplinary approach including data science and implementation science research will be supported to accelerate the implementation of more targeted and sustainable mental health research and interventions to (1) understand the complex systems, including social and structural determinants of mental health and identify more targeted mental health conditions prevention, treatment, and care interventions and implementation strategies; (2) to evaluate the implementation of data-driven insights ; (3) integrate meaningful engagement of community and implementing partners at every stage of the research.

The goal of the Mental Health Data Prize Africa is to produce tangible and scalable outputs or solutions that support mental health research and generate data-driven insights/evidence tailored to the needs and priorities of the African population, while building data capacity on the continent. To this effect, the specific objectives for the Mental Health Data Prize Africa call are:

  • To support trustworthy data science to transform how mental health research solves challenges
around anxiety, depression and psychosis in Africa through a collaborative approach.
  • To generate tangible and scalable data-driven tools to improve our understanding of mental health and how best to intervene in the Africa.
  • To generate data-driven insights tailoring mental health diagnosis, treatment and care and facilitate decision support among key users such as clinicians, front-line health workers and decision-makers in Africa.

What APHRC does ?

The APHRC will play a primary role in the data prize through execution of the following major activities.

Prize management
  • Develop guiding principles for data prize management and define thematic areas
  • APHRC will be responsible for the project management pipeline, including the management of subcontracted support, monitoring risks and issues, and ensuring delivery.
  • Reviewing and finalizing the Prize content and principles: APHRC will put in place eligibility criteria, selection criteria, selection panel, advisory board and Data prize structure.
  • Organize and lead the selection process to identify 5 to 10 multidisciplinary that will receive the prize money and manage the awards on behalf of Wellcome
  • Organizing a pitching event to present outputs from the projects, at the end of the 12-months Prize phase.
Capacity Building
  • Provide bespoke support and training to interested participants about the basics of data and mental health research, advanced statistical analysis, Introduction to machine learning algorithms and large language models, evidence-based decision making, and impact evaluation.
  • Reach relevant communities and potential participant such as African data scientists and researchers through different channels. To bring the mental health science community together to forge a common mental health research agenda around effective interventions for anxiety, depression and psychosis.  
  • Create a multidisciplinary mental health research community: Conduct matchmaking exercise to support applicants to join appropriate multidisciplinary teams whereby individuals with different knowledge, skillsets and backgrounds will be introduced to collaborate and develop a proposal together. Such activities will bring the mental health science community together to forge a common mental health research agenda around effective interventions for anxiety, depression and psychosis.
  • Support data science approach to transform mental health research and challenges around anxiety, depression and psychosis in Africa through a collaborative approach.
Landscape analysis of existing mental health research
  • We do a scooping review of existing datasets across the African continent that can be used as part of this prize.
  • Finalize and provision access to data sources from across the continent and support teams through the prize.

Values and Principles

APHRC’s mental health data prize project aims to build a more diverse and inclusive mental health science community, underpinned by a shared focus on finding new solutions. Therefore, we highly encourage and value the followings:

 –We highly encourage interdisciplinary research design to mental health science and solutions. Any research designed by bringing researchers from different disciplines to collaborate on the same issue ultimately contributes to our understanding of the mental health conditions in Africa.

Inclusivity and representation –Given the geographic diversity of the African region, researchers from all regions will be adequately represented to help make mental health science more diverse and inclusive.
Involvement key stakeholders such as people with lived experience – We strongly value involvement of community engagement especially those who seek input from people with lived experience of mental health problems.
Transparency:The objectives, criteria, judging process, and funding allocation will be transparent. All communications and ongoing activities within this mental health data prize will be public, selection panel and criteria are designed to be objective and managed in accordance with this guideline.
Respect-We create an environment of respect based on trust, confidence, and excellence by fostering cooperation and consideration of diverse perspectives. Respect is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us.
Fairness.We believe our decisions are impartial and objective. Our conduct must be free from competing self-interest, prejudice, and favoritism. We constantly reexamine our impartiality and objectivity, taking corrective action as appropriate.
Honesty:We earnestly seek to understand the truth and we encourage truthful, timely and accurate communications and conduct.
Responsiveness:We value strong and timely communication with all interested applicants. We will understand scooping of existing datasets across the continents and facilitate access to these data sources

In addition, we also encourage prize participants to follow the following rules and principles

  • Ethical considerations and data privacy
  • Considerations for transparency, integrity and accountability
  • Evidence-Based: drawing on established research and best practices in the MH field.
  • Innovation: solutions that embrace creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Impact: make a tangible difference in the MH of individuals and communities.
  • Sustainability: Consider the long-term sustainability of the solutions or their approaches with lasting impact.
  • Collaboration: Encourage collaboration among participants, stakeholders, and partners.
  • Scalability: Look for solutions that can be scaled up to reach a broader population or replicated.
  • PLE Community Engagement: Involve people with lived experiences experts in the design, implementation, and evaluation
  • Feedback and Learning: Embrace continuous learning and improvement.
  • Diversity and Inclusivity: Be accessible and welcoming to all, regardless of background

The detail descriptions of the RFP, the scope of the work, thematic areas, eligibility and evaluation criteria, review process, selection panel and notification of the award procedure will be communicated very soon.

Key Dates

Call for capacity building program registration
22nd December,2023

Orientations and Q and A session for registered applicants
5th February,2024

Launch capacity building program
9th February,2024

Start team building and match making
15th March,2024

Release RFP
1st July,2024

Deadline for submissions
30th July,2024

Final Announcement
30 September,2024