'There is no health without mental health'
Gede’s key objective in 2017 is to continue in efforts to deliver impact, innovation and influence across the spectrum ranging from community based mental health to policy formulation and adoption – all of which is seen as symbiotic and mutually reinforcing. 2017 built on partnership successes over 2014-2016.
CommunityBased Mental Health -
Gede Foundation (GF) has been implementing the BasicNeeds model for mental health and development in Nigeria for a year and three months, in two communities, Mpape (Federal Capital Territory) and Mararaba (Nasarawa State).
In the first quarter of the project, as part of setup activities, GF recruited and trained 10 Community Based Volunteers (CBVs), built the capacity of 10 Health Facility Workers (HFWs), held 2 community consultation meetings and completed one baseline situation assessment study.
Since then it has worked with the identified and engaged stakeholders in these communities to provide community oriented solutions that seek to improve the mental health and social-economic situation of people with mental illness and epilepsy (PWMIE), and their families.
At the beneficiary level, the project has identified and enrolled over 500 PWMIE and through the 16 mental health camps (MHCs) that it has completed, 207 of those enrolled have had access to medical evaluation and treatment initiation, which includes provision of drugs to 177 as a support for the first month of pharmacological treatment. The project has also setup four self-help groups (two per community) and has trained 33 of their members in leadership and advocacy, and 73 in livelihood. It has also provided livelihood grants to 43 of the members of these self-help groups to engage in income generation activities.
Influencing National Policy - At the policy and practice level, GF has been having discussions with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) concerning the modalities for boosting mental health care at the primary healthcare facilities.
Outcomes of these efforts are becoming evident. Life stories collected from service users and participatory data analysis indicate that a number of people who have initiated treatment in MHCs are experiencing symptom reduction and improved capacity to do productive work. This is making many of the service users to agree that mental illness is a medical condition that needs a medical solution rather than non-validated and unconventional options. Some also feel more social inclusion (which may be linked with their participation in the self-help groups) while some have started earning from the businesses setup with the livelihood funds they received. In addition to this, there has been a growing awareness of the situation of PWMIE and a growing support from several levels for the work being done by Gede to address their plight. This is evident since the start and includes the letter from the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac F, and in-kind support from the local Chiefs, health facilities, churches and mosques. Also, as a result of policy related meetings, Gede has also been invited to be a part of the technical working group being setup by NPHCDA to address the challenges of community mental health.
A final set of activities presently being implemented in the communities seek to ensure that the gains of the projects are sustained. It has been a great time working with these communities to improve the lives of PWMIE and it is hoped that this can be a basis for scaling the model in response to this national issues.