Experts from mental health programmes in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria gathered in London on 16th to 22nd January, 2018 to share learning about the most effective ways to support people with mental health conditions in Africa.The five-day learning event was hosted by BasicNeeds UK, which has been part of the CBM family since 2017. It brought together three organisations that have been working to help people with mental health problems in different parts of Africa – Caritas Nyeri from Kenya, Voice Ghana from Ghana and Gede Foundation from Nigeria – along with BasicNeeds and CBM staff.
In 2014, BasicNeeds received a grant from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) to scale up community-based mental health care and support in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. The funding was used to support three local partner organisations to implement the proven “BasicNeeds Model”. This funding, along with support from BasicNeeds, enabled Caritas Nyeri, Voice Ghana and Gede Foundation – all of whom had a strong track record of running other health or disability programmes in their own communities – to set up mental health programmes for the first time.
Gede Foundation had many years’ experience of working with people with HIV/Aids in Nigeria before they started a mental health programme with support from BasicNeeds. Godwin Etim explains that attitudes towards mental health were a particular issue: “It was an eye opener for us in Nigeria. Overcoming barriers – stigma and discrimination. It was the first programme in our province on mental health. Now people are openly coming forward.”
He valued the opportunity to learn from other organisations in different parts of Africa during the workshop in London: “We have learned so much about interconnected projects. Great to hear the positive results of these projects – that they are working and promoting community response [to mental health].”
Helen Karimi of Caritas Nyeri also valued the opportunity to review what had been achieved and learn from others: “It was a fantastic week, that we were able to evaluate the work we have done with GCC, looking at the successes and achievements we make and challenges along the way and the lessons learnt.”