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SEMH: Social Entrepreneurism in Mental Health

Welcome to the SEMH Website!

People with new ideas to address major problems who are relentless in the pursuit of their visions, people who simply will not take "no" for an answer, who will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as they possibly can." Bornstein, 2007.

The Objective of SEMH

The Social Entrepreneurism in Mental Health (SEMH) research group focuses on attempting to better understand how mental health equity can be achieved through the application of social entrepreneurial principles in mental health care. Our goal is to learn from the people who have transformed innovative ideas into highly effective services—to articulate the models upon which their services are based and the implications of their work for policy development—to share new ways to more effectively address the pervasive health disparities that exist in our society.


What is social entrepreneurism in mental health?


Key Attributes of Social Entrepreneurship in Mental Health Equity:

  • Highly innovative – addressing mental health (broadly defined) in ways that represented new approaches to care.
  • Sustainable – the innovative approach has been both successfully implemented and has also demonstrated sustainability fiscally and otherwise.
  • Reach and transferability – the approach has successfully and meaningfully engaged the communities served and represents a model that could be implemented in other jurisdictions and at other times.
  • Effective and Resourceful – the individuals involved readily take advantage of opportunities to expand their work and demonstrate a strong capacity to persevere despite few resources and other forms of adversity.

Who We Are

SEMH was developed by Drs. Sean Kidd and Kwame McKenzie. Both are research staff at the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and faculty with the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry.

SEMH and Grand Challenges Canada

With funding from Grand Challenges Canada a group from Ashoka (David Aylward, Susan Pigott, Amy Dalebout) and the University of Toronto, Canada (Sean Kidd, Kwame McKenzie, Donald Cole, David Wiljer) will be working together over the next two years to develop a strategy for more effectively spreading and scaling up efforts to address mental health internationally. Working closely with experts in business, technology, social innovation, and healthcare sectors, this will be an opportunity to help individuals and communities build responses to inequities in mental health.

This project is the first stage – with our planning to spend 2 years examining common aspects of successful practices addressing mental health among disadvantaged populations. Through conversations with people driving the most innovative interventions in this area, as well as experts from other sectors, we hope to draft out a strategy for expanding such efforts – a strategy that would then be tested in a second, much larger project.

What's New?

Just released

A guide to applying social entrepreneurship to mental health challenges in low-middle income settings. Hear the lead investigator describe the intent and use of the guide.

Click here to purchase a hardcopy.