Operating Grant - Rapid research response to the Novel Coronavirus - Mental Health & Substance Use Service Needs and Delivery outbreak


Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)


This funding opportunity is part of the Government of Canada's continued rapid response to address the major health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will be provided through multiple competitions designed to address mental health and substance use issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the intentional and unintentional effects of the public health measures to contain and mitigate its impact.

This rapid response operating grant funding aims to more explicitly address the specific mental health and/or substance use crisis response needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the strategies to contain and mitigate its impact. As with the previous funding opportunity, this includes the mental health and substance use impacts caused by prolonged periods of social isolation, unexpected employment disruptions, increased vulnerability of older adults, school closures, financial distress, and changes to routine, among others. Moreover, this funding also aims to help prepare the mental health and/or substance use health care systems for the COVID-19 post-pandemic future, including additional, unexpected crises.  

Key to all the short-term studies supported through this funding opportunity is establishing an evidence base for follow-on implementation science approaches. Research findings developed through this rapid response funding opportunity must be timely, innovative, and have clear linkages to both policies/services and established needs.

For all research priority areas below, eligible target populations will include both the general population (including First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, including urban/rural/off-reserve Indigenous populations) and vulnerable/at-risk groups. Please see Additional Information for a non-exclusive list of priority populations.

The specific objectives of this funding opportunity are:

  • To understand and address the acute mental health and/or substance use needs of individuals, communities and/or populations, and/or the effects on related care systems, due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • To develop the evidence to better match access to mental health and/or substance use services with the people who need them the most, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications must be in alignment with both of the objectives to be deemed relevant to this funding opportunity.

Research Areas

Applications must be related to mental health and/or substance use AND respond to at least one of the following 12 defined research area subtopics. The 12 subtopics are grouped under three defined research areas, as listed below.

  1. Understanding Rapid System Transformations
  2. Developing Innovative Adaptations of Services and/or Delivery
  3. Matching Access to Service with Needs

Please visit website for additional details within each research area


For an application to be eligible:

  1. The Nominated Principal Applicant must be an independent researcher.
  2. The Nominated Principal Applicant must be appointed at an eligible institution (see the CIHR Application Administration Guide – Part 4).
  3. At least one project participant, other than the Nominated Principal Applicant, must be a knowledge user.
  4. For applications involving Indigenous Peoples, the research team must include at least one Principal Applicant who self-identifies as Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit or Métis) and/or demonstrates a track record of meaningful and culturally safe involvement with Indigenous Peoples. See How to Apply section for more details.

Note: All CIHR eligible institutions are located in Canada.

Note: Funding success in the Knowledge Synthesis competition will not affect an applicant's eligibility to apply to the current funding opportunity.

Funding Availability

Approximately $10.27M of funding is available. The maximum amount per grant is up to $200,000 over one year. The Government of Canada's financial contributions for this initiative are subject to availability of funds. Should the Government of Canada funding levels not be available or are decreased due to unforeseen circumstances, the Government of Canada reserves the right to reduce, defer or suspend financial contributions to grants received as a result of this funding opportunity.

Special Notes

Please refer to the Office of Research COVID 19 web-page for directives related to research activities at the University of Guelph.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

Registration: PI to submit registration directly to sponsor via online application system ResearchNet. Application form will open once registration has been submitted.  More information on this funding opportunity and Registration instructions can be found on the CIHR website.

Internal Deadline

Application: PI to submit a copy of application, routing slip and signed Participant Signature pages (if applicable) along with a complete OR5 form to: research.services@uoguelph.ca.

PI must hit "submit" on ResearchNet on or before the internal deadline.  The application will then be accessible the the Grants Officer to review.

External Deadline

Application: This funding opportunity follows the eApproval process. This means that when the applicant submits an application, it will be directed electronically to the Research Institution which the applicant has identified as the Institution Paid. The Research Institution will review the application and submit their approval electronically to CIHR on behalf of the applicant.

To complete your application, follow the instructions for this program along with any additional specific instructions and submission requirements listed below.

Additional relevant materials

For Questions, please contact

Office of Research

Ornella McCarron, Grants Officer
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x52832

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