Created in 2017, IAM was inspired by and evolved out of four decades of serving people with the most chronic forms of mental illness, and building a specialized understanding of their needs.
In creating IAM, we kept two key factors in mind:
the lack of progress in health system improvement for people and families facing mental health concerns, especially those living with serious mental illness
the lack of innovation in the mental health system as a whole
We wanted to move the needle forward with these two major barriers. Our work is infused with a strong desire to bring much needed help and support to people and families impacted by mental illness, informed by a strong understanding of some of the service and support gaps that exist for families.
To redesign society for better mental health.
IAM is taking a leadership role in setting the foundation for a designated national space, inclusive of digital, for mental health innovation. It aims to build intelligence and understanding of the mental health landscape as it intersects with social determinants of health and examine all aspects of society, our individual experiences and needs, and our collective wellbeing.
IAM acts as a convener of innovators, mental health players, investors, venture and social capitalists, social innovation leaders, and designers, and others who are committed to making changes that improve the mental health care and well-being of people.
How We Work
We are nimble and independent.
Instead of trying to deliver mental health innovation within a traditional model (e.g. a large, stand-alone institution), IAM brings together public and private partnerships to work around systemic barriers to innovation, such as a disconnected health care system and lack of knowledge sharing across sectors and industries. Because of its independence, IAM will be able to adopt a more agile approach, which will be rooted in collaboration with key stakeholders already working in or directly affected by mental health issues.
We are solution-focused.
IAM exists to bring real solutions to people who need them (via the marketplace or otherwise) faster than what is possible within the existing constraints of our health care system. IAM is in a unique position to circumvent slow moving systems and work with pre-existing players to create viable and scalable solutions to some of the most troubling mental health concerns in our society as a whole. See some of our current projects.
We are a convener & collaborator.
We are committed to effective collaboration with system partners on every aspect of the journey, from ideas to solutions, from acceleration of a concept to eventually bringing it to the marketplace. Most importantly, we include the voice and experience of people who live with mental illness, co-designing solutions with them.
The need is real and the time is now. Mental health concerns are on the rise, creating pressure on systems, health care providers, and families.
The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime, with more than 450 million people currently affected world-wide.
Mental health concerns are on the rise in Canada and world-wide across all age groups, including an aging population. The economic and social health costs are high and still rising: the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) reported that without changes, mental illnesses will cost our economy at least $50 billion yearly.
By 2041, it is estimated that over 8.9 million Canadians will be living with a mental illness.
Current approaches to health care, coupled with a disconnected health care system leave too many people falling through the cracks. Research indicates that almost a third of Canadians who seek mental health care report that their needs are unmet or only partially met.
Innovation in mental health care is lacking
According to a 2018 Converge report, none of the 45 largest innovation labs/centres in Canada focuses exclusively on mental health care; moreover, most have been established independently of one another and lack coordination, knowledge sharing opportunities and impact on the broader system.
Out of the current innovation centres and labs that do work on initiatives to improve mental health and wellness, few if any are thinking about how to get from idea generation to solution creation and widespread access.
IAM wants to bring siloed innovators and innovation shops together to integrate knowledge sharing but to also help create real and meaningful solutions that people need, faster.
Putting people at the centre
IAM will ensure that solutions are based on the documented, demonstrated needs of people, co-designing solutions with people living with or impacted by mental illness.
To do this, we will support teams of entrepreneurs and existing enterprises, integrate the research community as a partner, advisor and evaluator, and at the same time remain committed to leveraging community-driven social innovations.