- Training and supporting local health professionals, officials and leaders
- Fighting stigma about Ebola and mental illness
In 2018 a Comic Relief grant enabled us to start a mental health programme in Sierra Leone, replicating our successful Uganda model. Working with seven communities in two districts, this project will strengthen mental health provision by working with and developing existing health structures. Aiming to benefit 2,525 people with mental illness and their caregivers, the programme offers counselling, referral and treatment. The project consists of an extensive training programme not only for project staff, but also for village health teams, local councillors, health centre staff, and key community leaders such as teachers and religious leaders, equipping them to build knowledge, raise awareness and ensure long-term sustainability. A key part of this training is community education sessions, designed to raise awareness and share positive messages about mental illness; the aim is to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek treatment. The programme will follow the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Plan (mhGAP) for mental health provision in poor countries. In addition, beneficiaries will form self-help groups in order to advocate for better mental health provision, raise the profile of mental illness and work together to start income generating livelihoods.
Conforti Community Aid Children Organisation (Conforti) is a Sierra Leonean NGO based in Freetown and Port Loko. It addresses the educational and welfare needs of young people including their mental health and psychosocial needs. We will work with Conforti to deliver a mental health programme in Freetown and Port Loko to support the many traumatised survivors of Ebola and the war.