The Australian Government is launching a competitive grant round of $11.6m (A$15m) to kick-start clinical trials to develop treatments for mental illness.

The A$15m Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant Opportunity under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will be used to explore the use of combination therapies to treat debilitating mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse disorders.

These illnesses include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, addiction disorders, and eating disorders.

Australia Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said: “The early results of trials in Australia and internationally are extremely encouraging, but more research is desperately needed before these approaches can be used by psychiatrists outside of controlled clinical trials.”

“This grant opportunity will boost local research into potentially life-saving therapies and offers hope all those suffering from mental illness, including our Veterans and emergency service personnel dealing with the devastating effects of PTSD.”

The Australian Government has committed $475m (A$614m) through the MRFF to support clinical trials.

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Funding for the 2021 Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant Opportunity will be provided for three years from 2021–22, with project activity up to five years.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said: “This bold initiative is about ensuring that we explore every avenue of potential treatment for Australians diagnosed with a mental illness.”

The government has opened applications for grants for Australian clinical trials to evaluate new therapeutics, including ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA, supported by psychological/ psychiatric care, through GrantConnect.