$10 Million Lone Star Prize for Depression Challenge includes support for Prof Patel's EMPOWER initiative

June 15, 2021

“We’re at the start of a journey to build the world’s community-based mental health force, which is essential for addressing the vast unmet need for high quality mental health care,” Professor Vikram Patel said. “Our initiative uses both established and novel digital tools to leverage decades of clinical and implementation research, giving community health workers the power to implement evidence-based treatments for patients with depression.”

“The Lone Star Depression Challenge is a fantastic opportunity to build a project at scale in one of the largest states in the U.S.,” Patel said. “Ultimately, we hope our approach will greatly expand the footprint of the existing mental health care system into the community, in particular reaching those who have historically had limited access to mental health care, and show the potential of this innovation to help millions of other people around the nation and around the world.”


A $10 million Lone Star Prize was awarded to Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for its competition entry, the “Lone Star Depression Challenge.”

In collaboration with the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use, the Meadows Institute aims to increase the rate of recovery from depression in Texas from less than 10 percent today to more than 50 percent through early detection and treatment in primary care.

The Lone Star Prize, awarded by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and managed by Lever for Change, is a Texas-based competition that was launched in early 2020 to find and fund bold solutions focused on building healthier, stronger communities.

In Texas today, an average of eight to ten years passes before depression is diagnosed after symptoms emerge. Because of this, fewer than 1 in 15 of the 1.5 million Texans suffering from depression each year receive sufficient care to recover.

The Meadows Institute says that once fully realized, the Lone Star Depression Challenge will free Texans affected by depression by scaling clinical solutions in health systems, empowering marginalized communities to achieve equitable outcomes, and harnessing purchaser-driven market forces to accelerate adoption of these changes. The Lone Star Prize will enable the collaborators to combine and scale up three innovative programs.

Portions of this story are adapted from the below press releases: 

Read the full Harvard Medical School press release here

Read Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute press release here