Wellcome Trust: Mental Health Award – Understanding How Anxiety- and Trauma-Related Problems Develop, Persist and Resolve

Closing Date: 14/11/2023

Support to investigate the biological, psychological and social causal mechanisms of anxiety- and trauma-related disorders in order to identify such problems and intervene at an early stage.

Founded in 1936, the Wellcome Trust is an independent foundation that seeks to improve health by supporting researchers, addressing big health challenges, campaigning for better science and encouraging everyone to get involved with science and health research.

The Trust’s Mental Health Award – Understanding How Anxiety- and Trauma-Related Problems Develop, Persist and Resolve call seeks to advance scientific understanding of the causal mechanisms through which brain, body and environment interact over time in the development, persistence and resolution of anxiety- and trauma-related disorders. Knowing more about these mechanisms will help to find better ways to identify these problems and intervene at an early stage.

This call forms part of the Trust’s strategic focus on mental health as a key global health challenge and seeks to enable early intervention for anxiety, depression and psychosis in ways that reflect the priorities and needs of people experiencing them. This work involves increasing scientific understanding of how brain, body and environment interact in the development and resolution of these conditions.

The primary focus of the call is on anxiety- and trauma-related disorders, defined here to include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • All types of phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Acute stress disorder
  • Transdiagnostic symptoms strongly associated with the above conditions (eg threat hyperreactivity, repetitive negative thinking etc)

Existing evidence suggests that many factors contribute to the development, persistence and resolution of anxiety-related problems (eg genetics, childhood maltreatment, traumatic life experiences and poverty). However, much less is known about the biological, psychological and social causal mechanisms underpinning how and why these factors influence the trajectory of these problems over time.

This funding opportunity wishes to move beyond correlational evidence to a deeper consideration of the causal mechanisms underpinning anxiety-related problems. This mechanistic understanding will help to develop new and improved ways to predict, identify and intervene as early as possible. The knowledge gained can be used for translational purposes.

Applicants must address at least one of the following two priorities.

  1. Research that considers multiple levels of explanation – Research should examine questions at more than one level of explanation (eg molecular, cellular, systems, cognitive, behavioural, social, environmental or societal).
  2. Research in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) – The majority of people with anxiety-related problems live in LMICs. Research is needed within and/or across LMICs to better understand how different contexts may impact the trajectory of anxiety-related problems.

Applications must focus on the causal mechanisms underlying the development, persistence and/or resolution of anxiety-related problems. Proposals do not need to focus on all three stages; they can focus on just one, two or three.

Research proposals must feature:

  • One or more evidence-based causal factor(s).
  • An appropriate research design, addressing causality.
  • At least one of the two research priorities.
  • Consideration of translational impact.
  • Involvement of people with lived experience.
  • One or more of the Trust’s recommended common measures if conducting research with human participants

All projects must describe the relevant ethical, social and cultural implications of their proposed work.

Funding body Wellcome Trust
Maximum value £4,000,000
Reference ID S25430
Category Medical Research
Fund or call Fund