In 2020, Network for Africa secured funding for a mental health programme in Port Loko district, Sierra Leone. With our local partners, we will provide support across six months to over 200 people with mental illness and their caregivers with the offer of counselling, referral and treatment for mental health in the context of Covid-19. This work is particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic, as we are working in communities that have barely recovered from the trauma of the Ebola epidemic. The project aims to raise community awareness through education and outreach increasing awareness of the signs of mental health problems, their causes and reducing mental health stigma. We will provide training not only to project staff in WHO’s mhGAP tools, monitoring, evaluation and learning, safeguarding and child protection; but we will also provide training to duty bearers in mental health awareness, proper referral pathways and response; training self-help group members and other people with mental illness on advocacy for their rights. We will support the running of three self-help groups per community (consisting of people from the community with mental illnesses and in recovery and their carers, and including civil war survivor amputees) whilst also helping them to set up and run their own version of village saving and loan associations. Our implementing partner is also one of the organisations chosen to be part of Port Loko district’s official Covid-19 response. Alongside tailored psychosocial support for those suffering from the impacts of the pandemic and its containment (such as movement restrictions, loss of livelihoods and increased poverty), we are supporting them to share public health messaging on disease prevention, enforcing social distancing and the wearing of masks. They dispel rumours and spread accurate information about the virus and how to prevent infection, and address people’s anxieties and stigmatisation around the disease.
Health Poverty Action & Conforti Community Aid Children Organisation – Port Loko Office (Conforti)