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Call: Boosting mental health in Europe in times of change

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Programme
Acronym HORIZON-HLTH-STAYHLTH
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 1 - Destination 1: Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society"

Calls for proposals under this destination are directed towards the Key Strategic Orientation KSO-D ‘Creating a more resilient, inclusive and democratic European society’ of Horizon Europe’s Strategic Plan 2021-2024. Research and innovation supported under this destination should contribute to the impact area ‘Good health and high-quality accessible health care’ and in particular to the following expected impact, set out in the Strategic Plan for the health cluster: ‘citizens of all ages stay healthy and independent in a rapidly changing society thanks to healthier lifestyles and behaviours, healthier diets, healthier environments, improved evidence-based health policies, and more effective solutions for health promotion and disease prevention’. In addition, research and innovation supported under this destination could also contribute to the following impact areas: ‘High quality digital services for all’, ‘Sustainable food systems from farm to fork on land and sea’, and ‘Climate change mitigation and adaptation’.

People´s health care needs are different, depending on their age, stage of life and socio-economic background. Their physical and mental health and well-being can be influenced by their individual situation as well as the broader societal context they are living in. Furthermore, health education and behaviour are important factors. Currently, more than 790 000 deaths per year in Europe are due to risk factors such as smoking, drinking, physical inactivity, and obesity. Upbringing, income, education levels, social and gender aspects also have an impact on health risks and how disease can be prevented. Moreover, people´s health can be impacted by a rapidly changing society, making it challenging to keep pace and find its way through new technological tools and societal changes, which both are increasing demands on the individual´s resilience. In order to leave no one behind, to reduce health inequalities and to support healthy and active lives for all, it is crucial to provide suitable and tailor-made solutions, including for people with specific needs.

In this work programme, destination 1 will focus on major societal challenges that are part of the European Commission’s political priorities, notably diet and health (obesity), ageing and demographic change, mental health, digital empowerment in health literacy, and personalised prevention. Research and innovation supported under this destination will provide new evidences, methodologies and tools for understanding the transition from health to disease. This will allow designing better strategies and personalised tools for preventing diseases and promoting health, including through social innovation approaches. Specific measures will also be developed to educate and empower citizens of all ages and throughout their life, to play an active role in the self-management of their own health and self-care, to the benefit of an active and healthy ageing. In 2022, it will also call for proposals for improving the availability and use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to predict the risk for onset and progression of chronic diseases. Key to achieving the expected impacts is the availability and accessibility of health data from multiple sources, including real-world health data, which will require appropriate support by research and data infrastructures, AI-based solutions, and robust and transparent methodologies for analysis and reporting.

Dialogue and coordination between stakeholders and policy makers as well as integration across different settings will be needed to develop more effective cross-sectoral solutions for health promotion and disease prevention and deliver improved evidence-based health for all.

In view of increasing the impact of EU investments under Horizon Europe, the European Commission welcomes and supports cooperation between EU-funded projects to enable cross-fertilisation and other synergies. This could range from networking to joint activities such as the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. Opportunities for potential synergies exist between projects funded under the same topic but also between other projects funded under another topic, cluster or pillar of Horizon Europe (but also with ongoing projects funded under Horizon 2020). In particular, this could involve projects related to European health research infrastructures (under pillar I of Horizon Europe), the EIC strategic challenges on health and EIT-KIC Health (under pillar III of Horizon Europe), or in areas cutting across the health and other clusters (under pillar II of Horizon Europe). For instance, with cluster 2 “Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society” such as on health inequalities, on other inequalities affecting health, or on citizens’ behaviour and engagement; with cluster 4 “Digital, Industry and Space” such as on digital tools, telemedicine or smart homes; with cluster 5 “Climate, Energy and Mobility” such as on urban health or on mitigating the impact of road traffic accidents and related injuries; with cluster 6 “Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment” such as on the role of nutrition for health (incl. human microbiome, mal- and over-nutrition, safe food), personalised diets (incl. food habits in general and childhood obesity in particular) and the impact of food-related environmental stressors on human health (incl. marketing and consumer habits).[[Strategic Plan 2021-2024 of Horizon Europe, Annex I, Table 2.]]

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to staying healthy in a rapidly changing society, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:

  • Citizens adopt healthier lifestyles and behaviours, make healthier choices and maintain longer a healthy, independent and active life with a reduced disease burden, including at old ages or in other vulnerable stages of life.
  • Citizens are able and empowered to manage better their own physical and mental health and well-being, monitor their health, and interact with their doctors and health care providers.
  • Citizens´ trust in knowledge-based health interventions and in guidance from health authorities is strengthened, including through improved health literacy (including at young ages), resulting in increased engagement in and adherence to effective strategies for health promotion, diseases prevention and treatment, including increased vaccination rates and patient safety.

Health policies and actions for health promotion and disease prevention are knowledge-based, people-centred and thus targeted and tailored to citizens' needs, and designed to reduce health inequalities.

Link Link to Programme
Call
Boosting mental health in Europe in times of change
Description of call
"Boosting mental health in Europe in times of change"

Expected Outcome

  • Health care professionals, national/regional public authorities and other relevant actors in key settings (e.g. schools, workplaces, etc.):
    • Have access to and apply evidence-based, innovative, cost-effective/cost-neutral, large-scale, comprehensive strategies and interventions for the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental ill health, targeting the most vulnerable populations;
    • Adopt clinical guidelines, best practices, implementation strategies and policy recommendations (as applicable to them) to mitigate the mental health burden and help cope with the (combined) effects of a transforming Europe (e.g. the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, environmental degradation, energy transition, demographic and migration factors, digitalisation, and exponential technological advancements);
  • The scientific community together with the public authorities anticipate new and emerging risks to mental health associated with a transforming Europe, contributing to better and inclusive public mental health preparedness.
  • Citizens have access to and make use of new tools and services to take informed decisions about their wellbeing and mental health care needs (including for self-management and self-care).
  • Citizens feel less stigmatised and marginalised due to their mental ill health.

Scope:

Against the backdrop of a transforming Europe and in the midst of a global pandemic, the EU is committed to lead the transition to a healthier planet and a new digital world. The health and wellbeing of its citizens is a prerequisite to achieve this aspiration.

On the one hand, extreme weather and environmental disasters have risen dramatically over the last decade. Links between these events and serious mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic disorder and suicide, have been reported. Moreover, several new words such as “eco-anxiety”, “ecoparalysis” and “ecological grief” have been coined to express the acute and/or chronic effects on mental health caused by climate and environmental changes.

On the other hand, digital technologies and the achievement of the Digital Single Market – one of the EU’s key priorities – are transforming our economy, our industries as well as our culture and lifestyle. Digitalisation, including digitally-enabled technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence, are penetrating much faster into societies than in the past and affect us all. Accordingly, the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”’ is changing the way we work (e.g. workplaces, working practices and patterns, the workforce and its skills, and how we perceive work) as well as the way we live. The exponential incorporation of digital technologies in our daily lives has already caused profound changes in the way we communicate and is likely to have significant impact (both positive and negative) on mental health and intellectual/cognitive ability, in particular of the youth. Digital platforms can provide mental health support as well as increase social inclusiveness. However, digital technologies also introduce new risks, such as continuous connectivity, cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate or fake content.

Accordingly, the proposed research should aim to deliver in all three dimensions listed below, focusing on one or several of the (combined) effects of a transforming Europe highlighted in the “Expected Outcomes”.

  1. Provide a comprehensive knowledge base of how a transforming Europe can influence mental health in a fast-evolving society, especially in the most vulnerable populations, by consolidating data from relevant sources and/or acquiring new data, and by reviewing existing methodologies.
  2. Develop and implement (pilot and/or scale-up) interventions, which promote wellbeing and prevent mental illness to help cope with and mitigate the stress of a changing society, including digitalisation, climate change and/or other factors highlighted in the “Expected Outcomes”.8 The interventions should target relevant settings (e.g. workplaces, schools) and the most vulnerable populations (e.g. children and adolescents, the elderly, people with pre-existing health conditions and co-morbidities and other high-risk groups such as socio-economic disadvantaged groups, migrants, etc.). Integration of care and coordination among different settings from communities to health care is desirable. The effectiveness of the interventions should be evaluated, inter alia, in terms of health outcomes, (comparative) cost-effectiveness, implementation facilitators and barriers. Depending on the aspects covered by the proposed research, desired outputs may include, but are not limited to:
    • Evidence-based guidelines for health care professionals on the promotion of mental wellbeing and prevention of mental illness related to ICT and climate and environment change (including screening methods).
    • Evidenced-based pedagogical practices for education professionals to foster mental health promotion in schools (including higher education) and/or via eLearning.
    • Consultation during school time to educate students (e.g. on coping with change) and to detect early students at risk.
    • Educational material and campaigns targeting the most vulnerable groups, (e.g. children and the elderly), disseminated via the most appropriate and effective media and communication channels, to improve health literacy, skills, attitudes and self-awareness leading to a better (self-)management of wellbeing and/or mental ill health.
    • Studies on occupational mental health in the workplace, in particular in small and medium-sized enterprises, e.g.: i) understanding the impact of a 24-hour digital economy on workers’ well-being, also in terms of managerial control mechanisms, work-life balance and privacy and developing/piloting new methods to protect and support workers’ well-being in this respect; ii) designing information and training campaigns for workers to integrate the already visible impacts of digitalisation-induced changes into the professional risk assessment processes; iii) developing return-to-work programmes, also exploring innovative collaboration between mental health services, (life-long) education, and employment sectors. This will ensure appropriate support to better integrate individuals affected by mental ill health in the workforce and the society.
  3. Inform policy-makers and regulators on: i) the prevalence and burden of mental ill health related to a transforming European society (e.g. digital technologies, climate change, etc); and/or ii) the effects of a transforming European society (e.g. digitalisation, climate change and transition to “green jobs”) on occupational mental health; and/or iii) the (comparative) cost-effectiveness of public mental health interventions/policy choices.

Research should be multidisciplinary, including medical sciences, social sciences, the humanities, and the arts, if relevant. It is important to consider aspects such as (associated) behavioural patterns, stigma and novel social dynamics as well as different socioeconomic, cultural and geographical contexts. In all instances, sex and gender-related issues must be taken into account. All data should be disaggregated by sex, age and other relevant variables, such as by measures of socioeconomic status (i.e. take into account the socioeconomic gradient in mental health). International collaboration is encouraged.

Proposals should involve end-users (including civil society organisations) and/or strategic partners in the design and during the course of the project. Possible end-users and strategic partners could include local or regional authorities, community services, employers, schools/universities, cultural institutions, insurance companies, civil society organisations, communities, among others. Proposals should adopt a patient-centred approach that empowers patients, promotes a culture of dialogue and openness between health professionals, patients and their families, and unleashes the potential of social innovation.

All projects funded under this topic are strongly encouraged to participate in networking and joint activities, as appropriate. These networking and joint activities could, for example, involve the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. This could also involve networking and joint activities with projects funded under other clusters and pillars of Horizon Europe, or other EU programmes, as appropriate. Therefore, proposals are expected to include a budget for the attendance to regular joint meetings and may consider to cover the costs of any other potential joint activities without the prerequisite to detail concrete joint activities at this stage. The details of these joint activities will be defined during the grant agreement preparation phase. In this regard, the Commission may take on the role of facilitator for networking and exchanges, including with relevant stakeholders, if appropriate.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion, Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Administration & Governance
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
United States of America
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
United States of America
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, National Government, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 06.10.2021
Call closes 01.02.2022
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

This call is subject of a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, applicants will be requested to submit only an outline application (which will be evaluated against only two award criteria: ‘Excellence’ and ‘Impact’). Successful applicants will be invited to submit a full application for the second stage (which will be evaluated against the full set of award criteria).

Page limit - part B: 45 pages - The limit for a first-stage application is 10 pages.

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 7.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 50.00 million.
Typ of ActionResearch and Innovation Actions
Funding rate100%
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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