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Knowledge Exchange > Researchers > Research Initiatives > Social Entrepreneurism in Mental Health (SEMH)

SEMH: Social Entrepreneurism in Mental Health 

Please visit our new site at

Welcome to the Social Entrepreneurism in Mental Health website!

People with new ideas to address major problems who are relentless in the pursuit of their visions, people who simply will not take “no” for an answer, who will not give up until they have spread their ideas as far as they possibly can.” Bornstein, 2007 

NEW: Grand Challenges Canada grant awarded to SEMH

Dr. Sean Kidd, along with collaborators Drs. Kwame McKenzie, David Wiljer, Donald Cole, and at Ashoka Elisha Muskat, Susan Pigott, and David Aylward have been awarded a GCC seed grant to work toward the development of a tool to assist in scaling up social entrepreneurship approaches to mental health equity. More to come soon!

The Objective of SEMH

The Social Entrepreneurism in Mental Health (SEMH) research group focuses on attempting to better understand how mental health equity can be achieved through the application of social entrepreneurial principles in mental health care. Our goal is to learn from the people who have transformed innovative ideas into highly effective services—to articulate the models upon which their services are based and the implications of their work for policy development—to share new ways to more effectively address the pervasive health disparities that exist in our society.

What is social entrepreneurism in mental health?

Key Attributes of Social Entrepreneurship in Mental Health Equity:

  1. Highly innovative – addressing mental health (broadly defined) in ways that represented new approaches to care.
  2. Sustainable – the innovative approach has been both successfully implemented and has also demonstrated sustainability fiscally and otherwise.
  3. Reach and transferability – the approach has successfully and meaningfully engaged the communities served and represents a model that could be implemented in other jurisdictions and at other times.
  4. Effective and Resourceful – the individuals involved readily take advantage of opportunities to expand their work and demonstrate a strong capacity to persevere despite few resources and other forms of adversity.

Who we are

SEMH was developed by Drs. Sean Kidd and Kwame McKenzie. Both are research staff at the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and faculty with the University of Toronto Department of Psychiatry.

The Project that Launched SEMH

SEMH was grew from a research project funded by the University of Ottawa Population Health Improvement Research Network. In this project we assembled and led a committee composed of recognized leaders in service provision among Aboriginal, LGBTQ, immigrant, refugee, and homeless persons to determine the programs and organizations in Toronto that have broken new ground in conceptualizing and developing mental health services in each of these sectors. Working with this committee, we engaged in an intensive search process to identify exemplary organizations and chose five such organizations to participate in an in-depth analysis of their work. Case studies were then completed with each of these organizations to identify factors that have been critical to their success.

Learning from the Groundbreakers: Models of Innovation in Addressing Mental Health Equity in TorontoThis project culminated in the Knowledge Transfer event held at the Toronto MaRS Discovery District on March 3, 2011 entitled Learning from the Groundbreakers: Models of Innovation in Addressing Mental Health Equity in Toronto (PDF only).


SEMH roadmaps for providers and decision makers

Based on our own research and reviews of the social entrepreneurship and service implementation literatures SEMH has compiled two roadmaps for service providers and decision makers. They have been designed to help providers develop stronger services within a social entrepreneurship framework and assist decision makers with identifying criteria that characterize service providers who are likely to have the greatest impacts on mental health disparities.

Now available: Models of Innovation in Addressing Mental Health Equity in Toronto (PDF only) - the presentation made at the launch event on March 3 in Toronto at MARS.

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