Mental Health Panel – Fortaleza

Adolescents Advocacy Data and Evidence Innovation Public Policy

Project start: October 2021

Partners: Vital Strategies


In progress since October 2021, this pilot project entails the construction of a mental health map, particularly focused on children and adolescents, and is being developed in partnership with Vital Strategies together with the municipality of Fortaleza (CE). The Mental Health Map will be an important tool for public administration, as it will give visibility to both mental health conditions and available resources, through a cartographic view of supply and demand and its respective territorial distribution. Additionally, it will combine mental health indicators and their social determinants through the creation of a compound index of adolescents’ mental health.

Mental illnesses have multiple impacts on quality of life, school and professional performance, personal relationships and social well-being. Knowing that about 50% of mental health conditions start by the age of 14, it’s urgent that we create mental health solutions for children and adolescents in the present so as to prevent illnesses in the future. Despite this, there remains a lack of consistent public policy on mental health targeting the child and youth population worldwide and more specifically in Brazil.

The construction of the Map aims to support decision-making and the formulation of effective public policies in mental health. Moreover, it is a tool to strengthen the mental health agenda in other sectors working with our target groups. Healthcare (especially primary care), education and social assistance are considered strategic areas to ensure full access to mental health care, given the social determinants of health.

This practical tool is expected to be launched in the second half of 2022 and will provide data and evidence to support and enhance public systems and services that directly or indirectly impact mental health, improving access to care, and fostering an intersectoral approach to this agenda. The platform will feature an interactive map of the city, a list of municipal services, academic research on the topic, as well as a field for users to share best practices and their recommendations. The construction of the map will take into account a desk research to be conducted internally, as well as interviews with local stakeholders within different sectors, fostering the exchange of experiences, and more coordination across sectors when dealing with mental health.

This project represents a joint effort between civil society organisations and the local government, and highlights the intersectoral nature of mental health, given all the social determinants that impact it. Supporting decision-making based on evidence benefits the whole society and this actionable tool may also be scaled to other municipalities.

Expected outcomes

  • Collection of data and indicators to assess, monitor, and evaluate the mental health situation in each territory and support the formulation of public policies.
  • Creation of a compound index to measure the social determinants of mental health considering different sectors (e.g. education, safety, environment), in order to allow for more evidence-based decisions and to optimize healthcare spending. The pilot project in Fortaleza may be scaled to other locations.
  • A dynamic online platform featuring the “Mental Health Map” of Fortaleza with an emphasis on children and teenagers, displaying the indicators’ matrix and the compound index, including, among others: the social determinants of health; information on demand versus available mental health resources in the territory; field to share best practices & local experiences, and academic repository on the theme.
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