Over the last half century, we have developed many innovative treatments for conditions impacting the brain and central nervous system. Building on this legacy, we are expanding access to mental healthcare for the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. In addition to our large-scale clinical study (see below), we continue to support programs that empower frontline health workers to manage mental illness.
Facts About Mental Health
Health for Humanity 2025 Goals | Global Health Equity
Achieved first patient enrolled, with 11 patients enrolled by the end of 2021 and additional patient enrollment underway.
Completed clinical research trainings for site investigators, helping to provide local capacity building in Rwanda.
To address the urgent need for mental health understanding and services in Rwanda, in 2018, Johnson & Johnson's GPH GPH Global Public Health organization partnered with the Rwanda Ministry of Health to develop a framework for quality, accessible mental healthcare. Over the past three years, the partnership has trained thousands of community health workers on the signs and symptoms of mental illness; conducted the first National Mental Health Survey in Rwanda; and has made second-generation antipsychotics available, including oral risperidone and paliperiodone palmitate long-acting injectables (PPLAI).
Video by: Devex/Will Swanson
First interventional clinical study of schizophrenia in Africa: Building on this momentum, in 2021, we commenced our Clinical Study to Assess the Treatment of Schizophrenia with Paliperidone Palmitate in Rwandan Healthcare Settings (CASPAR), the first interventional clinical trial for schizophrenia in Africa. The study is assessing the impact of the PPLAI antipsychotic treatment in patients with schizophrenia in real-world healthcare settings. Beyond the data to be generated, the study is also helping strengthen critical research capacity in resource-limited settings by providing local Rwandan clinical staff with valuable training related to the conduct of mental health research and Good Clinical Practice (GCP). Our efforts included a dedicated training program for local staff, developed and delivered with the help of the European Centre for Clinical Research Training. The launch of the CASPAR study represents the latest step in our commitment to generate evidence that will inform adoption of PPLAI as a treatment option for schizophrenia.
Supporting mental health workers: As part of our strategic collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Rwanda, we co-developed a unique, phone-based mental health training program on the signs and symptoms and referral process for common mental health disorders for more than 50,000 community health workers in Rwanda. Implementation of this study was found to be feasible and acceptable as a training platform in a new study published in Frontiers in Public Health. The training program results support the expanded usage in LMICs LMICs Low- and middle-income countries .
Milestones in schizophrenia treatment
Advancing a digital mental health solution in China: Our agreement with the digital health and data analytics company, Holmusk, to explore the development of a digital mental health strategy in China, yielded initial results in 2021 with the granting of regulatory approval for mConnect, a patient-centric digital health solution for major depressive disorder. We worked with Holmusk to localize the app, and in November 2021, it made its debut in the Apple store for download and use by patients and clinicians. Use of the app will support targeted management of wellness-oriented consumers as well as mental health patients.
Additional initiatives we progressed in 2021 to help improve life for people with mental illness included:
- Johnson & Johnson contributed to the mid-2021 publication of the UK's Life Sciences Vision, providing expertise in relation to mental health and dementia as well as other health challenges.
- We maintained our support for the World Dementia Council and co-led a workshop on dementia prevention and care in 2021.
- We continued our funding support for and collaboration with the Healthy Brains Global Initiative (HBGI) and co-chairmanship of the Use of Proceeds working group by Dr. Husseini Manji, Global Head, Johnson & Johnson Science for Minds. HBGI was established in 2020 as a nonprofit aiming to mobilize $10 billion for brain health research to benefit people living with neurological and mental health disorders.
- We are closely involved with the NIH NIH National Institutes of Health Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee (NExTRAC), which helps shape new initiatives focused on data science and emerging technologies. Johnson & Johnson’s Dr. Husseini Manji was appointed to NExTRAC in 2021.
As a member of NExTRAC, I am involved in defining and characterizing the kinds of research that will require gathering data about individuals using emerging technologies, considering both the benefits and risks. These insights will help define future initiatives, informed by stakeholder input, to ensure that data science progresses in a responsible manner and respects the privacy of individuals.