citiesRISE is a global platform committed to transforming the state of mental health policy and practice in cities and beyond to meet the mental health needs of populations across the world.

To achieve significant, measurable improvements in mental health – especially among young people – citiesRISE is scaling up proven methodologies and tools and harnessing the skills and energy of experts and communities. Our vision is a world in which cities enable young people to grow up, develop resilience, and lead productive lives through mainstreaming mental health across sectors.

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Mental health matters because it affects everyone

Poor mental health affects a large and growing number of people across the world:

half a billion

Every day, half a billion people suffer from depression across the world, with associated economic, social, and educational impacts.


Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes his or her own life, producing a global tally of more than 800,000 suicides per year.


Mental illness is a chronic disease of the young, with over 75% of mental illnesses showing by age 24.

The effects of mental illness have enormous economic implications

According to the World Economic Forum, mental illness will account for more than half of the economic burden of disease over the next two decades – more than cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases combined. The effects of mental illness account for an estimated $2.5 to $8.5 trillion loss in global output annually.

Proven solutions exist, yet most people do not get the help they need. While the treatment gap in the US is nearly 60%, and rises to 90% in lower middle-income countries, global annual mental health spending remains under $2 per person. Although much of this burden is preventable, effective interventions for all types of mental illnesses have not been scaled up. The field of global mental health has largely been fragmented and confined to mental health researchers, implementers, and policy makers.

The first step toward breaking down silos to improve mental health and well-being of individuals and communities is taking a comprehensive view of its causes and potential solutions. citiesRISE is focused on driving transformative change by connecting creative and collaborative leaders from across diverse sectors to bring solutions to life and mobilizing the next generation to lead.

Transforming Mental Health Worldwide

citiesRISE aims to improve mental health and wellbeing by connecting leading mental health practitioners and community members to:

Drive change through city- and community-based alliances and initiatives that bring innovative mental health education, prevention, treatment, and recovery support to millions of people currently underserved. With their inherent connectivity, density, creativity, and entrepreneurial capacity, cities have the potential to spur countrywide action.

Adopt evidence-based strategies for tackling the most pressing problems in mental health and wellbeing — especially stigma, the incidence of suicide, shortcomings in support for young people, and the prevalence of mental health problems affecting vulnerable groups.

Scale up proven tools and approaches through helping communities learn from each other and working with innovations that bring services to where people are.

citiesRISE has long-term targets that mirror the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our Global Goals

Improvement in awareness of mental health (SDG11)

Reduction in suicidality and self harm (SDG3)

Improvement in risk factors for premature mortality (SDG3)

Increase in early identification and screening for mental health mandated in school systems (SDG3)

Improvement in school retention rates in 30 cities (SDG4)

Improvement in job retention in 30 cities (SDG8)

Mental wellbeing. Let’s talk. Let’s walk. Let’s act.

Our Approach Local Collective Action, Young People and Youth Leadership, and Innovation and Acceleration

We have built three core initiatives to help cities and surrounding communities significantly improve the mental health of the maximum amount of people in the least amount of time:

Local Collective Action: An innovative and structured approach to cross-sector collaboration that brings creative and collaborative local leaders together under a common operating plan and goal framework to reach as many people as possible. As concentrated nodes, cities offer opportunities to efficiently use resources in a way that is not possible in locations with more dispersed populations. Our methodology involves gathering and convening key stakeholders, crafting situation analyses, supporting demonstration projects, developing theories of change, delivering programs, and aggregating feedback that contributes to a learning collaborative.

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Young People and Youth Leadership: By focusing on young people and youth leadership, we are creating awareness of mental health from an earlier stage, mobilizing youth to be leaders in the field, addressing large-scale stigma, and preventing mental health challenges before they become chronic or disabling. To engage with young people and youth leaders in settings they choose, youthRISE will operate in educational settings such as schools, through leisure activities such as sports and arts, and through technology-based channels. Young mental health activists themselves, often with a lived experience of mental health disorders, have a critical leading role to play.

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Innovation and Acceleration: We are supporting social entrepreneurs to take their models to scale with path-to-market strategies, development of business models, and integration with systems operating at scale for long-term sustainability. When access to knowledge is limited, progress is too. Proven models that holistically address mental health do exist, but effective scaling up is almost non-existent, with good practice examples invariably remaining isolated

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Cutting across these initiatives we have built a research and learning platform that enables fast cycle learning, rapid prototyping and knowledge transfer.


Research underpins all that we do at citiesRISE. We run a range of research initiatives, from testing new innovations to studying what flourishing means in different contexts, via a network of city research and innovation hubs. In particular, we focus on transdisciplinary research, action research, and intergenerational research collaborations. Find Out More


Learning from experience and applying evidence of what works to improve mental health is a key element of citiesRISE. The Learning Collaborative will act as the unification point of citiesRISE activities, while driving progress across three key areas: research and evidence, shared learning and indicators, and advocacy and mobilization. Find Out More

Catalyzing local action and driving global advocacy