Mental Health Dashboard

Adolescents Advocacy Data and Evidence Innovation Public Policy

Pilot Project: October 2021 – December 2022

Project expansion: From January 2023

Partners: Vital Strategies and CONASS


In partnership with Vital Strategies, the Cactus Institute co-developed, financed and provided technical support for the preparation of a mental health plan to help improve municipal management of health services for children and young people. The project began in October 2021 as a pilot in the city of Fortaleza, CE, and was delivered in December 2022.

The Mental Health Dashboard has become an important tool for public administration in Fortaleza, allowing managers to see the impact and regional distribution of mental health conditions and resources in each neighborhood of the city. This was made possible by the integration of mental health indicators and their social determinants, which enabled the creation of an unprecedented composite index of mental health in children and young people, from the perspective of promoting health, and a cartographic visualization of supply and demand in the surrounding area. More information about the pilot program and the methodology used can be found here

The results of the pilot project showed the potential of the Mental Health Dashboard as a management tool capable of being implemented at the national level, with the execution phase being carried out throughout 2023.

In addition to Vital Strategies, this second stage of the project has the cooperation of the National Council of Health Secretaries (CONASS) and co-financing from RD (RaiaDrogasil). The Mental Health Dashboard will thus be available to all Brazilian cities and states to support decision making by public managers in the preparation of specific public mental health policies, as well as contributing to the incorporation of this agenda into intersectoral public policies regarding children and adolescents.

The data and evidence obtained from the tool enable the public administration to act more effectively and efficiently by mapping and prioritizing specific geographical areas and social determinants. 

The platform has an interactive georeferenced map, a list of available services and equipment, a directory of best practices and an area for academic exchanges and discussions on the subject. 

The dashboard was put together by a team of mental health experts and public managers using data from Vital Strategies and CONASS and technical support from the Cactus Institute. 

Increasing the dissemination and visibility of mental health and intersectoral issues in the municipal public debate through advocacy, intersectoral coordination and strategic communication represents a joint effort between two organizations of civil society and public administration to support evidence-based decision making. 


  • Development of a composite Child and Adolescent Mental Health Index (CMHI), based on a matrix of indicators, which allows visualizing regions that have greater vulnerability in the area of mental health.
  • Creation of the Fortaleza, CE, Mental Health Dashboard, a georeferenced tool with the ISM data available at neighborhood level.
  • Creation of an online platform, available to the Fortaleza municipal government, which includes visualization of the georeferenced Dashboard, the ISM and a repository of best practices.
  • The 1st Intersectoral Mental Health Seminar was held in partnership with the Fortaleza City Council and Vital Strategies, with more than 70 participants, including representatives from more than 15 municipal departments.
  • Endorsements  were issued by the Fortaleza Secretariat of Human Rights and Social Development and Secretariat of Education, attesting to the reliability of the Dashboard’s data, as well as highlighting the innovative nature and practicality of the tool. 
  • Dialogue established with CONASS (the National Council of Health Secretaries) to scale up the tool throughout the country.
  • Communication and awareness-raising in the media and press about the launch of the project and its importance, and the significance of focusing on mental health.

Lessons for the ecosystem

  • Addressing mental health requires contributions from various sectors. Creating tools that integrate indicators from different sectors, based on a composite index, is an effective alternative approach to incorporate the multifactorial nature of the issue.
  • To move forward with mental health in a structured and sustainable way, it is essential to look beyond care and incorporate approaches to the prevention of illness and promotion of mental health. A tool that can incorporate social determinants is important for working on risk and protection factors in a strategic way.
  • There is a gap in data and indicators on the subject of mental health that can be bridged by tools and solutions built together with the public administration to give visibility to this agenda, based on public databases.
  • Faced with an agenda that requires intersectoral and collective action, it is essential to provide visibility and knowledge about initiatives and best practices, so that they can be shared among the various players involved in promoting mental health.
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