2024 Wellcome Trust Mental Health Award: Understanding how anxiety - and trauma - related problems develop, persist and resolve



You can apply to this call if you are a team of researchers: 

We encourage applications from: 

  • diverse and interdisciplinary teams, with collaborations covering multiple areas of expertise (for example, biological, psychological and social)
  • researchers at any stage of their career, including early career researchers and/or those who are new to the field of mental health science. 

Although we encourage applications from diverse and interdisciplinary teams, this is not required. Each application should include the necessary team expertise and organisational support to answer the proposed research question(s). The contribution of each coapplicant (and collaborator, if applicable) to the project should be justified. Teams may want to consider involving people with lived experience of mental health problems in the project team, as lead applicants, coapplicants and/or collaborators. 

When research occurs in more than one location, applications must include coapplicants based in each country where the research will take place. If the proposed research is planned to take place only in a low- or middle-income country, the lead applicant must be affiliated with an eligible organisation based in that country. For all collaborations, we expect applicants to demonstrate how they will approach ethical and equitable partnerships, including how this will be approached in partnerships between low- and middle-income country researchers and high-income country researchers.  

Each application can only have one named lead applicant, who would be accountable for the delivery of grant activities, the financial management of the award and compliance with Wellcome’s grant conditions in the event of a successful application. The management of the project locally is at the discretion of the applicants and could include co-leads to ensure equity, where justified (for example, across high-income and low- and middle-income countries). 


Wellcome’s mental health strategic aim is to drive a transformative change in our ability to intervene as early as possible in the course of anxiety, depression and psychosis, in ways that reflect the priorities and needs of people who experience these problems.

This call will fund research that advances scientific understanding of the causal mechanisms through which brain, body and environment interact over time in the development, persistence and resolution of anxiety- and trauma-related disorders, defined here to include: 

  • generalised anxiety disorder 
  • panic disorder 
  • social anxiety disorder 
  • all types of phobias 
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder 
  • post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • acute stress disorder 
  • transdiagnostic symptoms strongly associated with the above conditions (for example, threat hyperreactivity, repetitive negative thinking, etc.).  

Existing evidence suggests that many factors contribute to the development, persistence and resolution of anxiety-related problems. For example:

  • Genetics
  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Traumatic life experiences
  • Poverty
  • Negative social experiences such as bullying
  • Environmental exposures such as air pollution.

However, we know much less about the biological, psychological and social causal mechanisms underpinning how and why these factors influence the trajectory of these problems over time. With this funding opportunity, Wellcome Trust wants to move beyond correlational evidence to a deeper consideration of the causal mechanisms underpinning anxiety-related problems. This mechanistic understanding will help develop new and improved ways to predict, identify and intervene as early as possible.

Applications must focus on the causal mechanisms underlying the development, persistence and/or resolution of anxiety-related problems. Proposals do not need to focus on all three stages; they can focus on just one, two or three. The chosen causal factor(s) must be related to the trajectory (development, persistence and/or resolution) of anxiety-related problems. The proposal must define and justify why a particular causal factor is being investigated. Research proposals must use research design(s) that allow for the study of how anxiety-related problems develop, persist and/or resolve over time, and provide insights into the causal mechanism(s) explaining this change.  

Research priorities

To be eligible to apply, applicants must address at least one of the following two priorities.

1. Research that considers multiple levels of explanation 

The causes and solutions of mental health problems are likely to involve a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. Integrated approaches are therefore crucial to understanding the causal mechanisms of mental health problems.  

We are therefore looking to fund research that examines questions at more than one level of explanation (for example, molecular, cellular, systems, cognitive, behavioural, social, environmental or societal). This may involve using different experimental models (for example, organoid and rodent models) and human participants; however, this is not a requirement. 

2. Research in low- and middle-income countries  

Of the more than 300 million people living with an anxiety-related problem globally, an estimated 79% (238 million) live in low- and middle-income countries. Despite this, research into anxiety-related problems in these countries has been underfunded, with less than $2 million spent on anxiety each year, compared to over $17 million spent on depression. Without a better understanding of how these problems develop, persist and resolve in these countries, we will not be able to progress towards our vision of a world in which no one is held back by mental health problems.  

We are therefore looking to fund research within and/or across low- and middle-income countries, to better understand how different contexts may impact the trajectory of anxiety-related problems. Read the full list of low- and middle-income countries.

Agency Name: 
Wellcome Trust
Contact Name: 
Keiko McFarland
Grant Amount: 
Up to £4 million for up to five years
Grant Location: 
External Deadline: 
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Internal Deadline: 
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Grant Type: 
Grant Area: 
Grant Eligibility: