'There is no health without mental health'
Gede’s key objective in 2016 is 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. 2016 will build on partnership successes over 2014-2015 in particular to deliver –
Community based mental health - Gede’s engagement with a two year (funded) BasicNeeds UK project will provide a major opportunity to develop a strong community based mental health and livelihood initiative through, initially, strengthening HIV-AIDS Support Groups in ways which generate data which can be leveraged to influence key national healthcare policies. The initiative is seen as Gede’s flagship programme in 2016. BasicNeeds is already operating in twelve countries around the world and Gede represents their first venture into ‘crossover’ projects (mental health comorbid with HIV-AIDS) and is therefore high profile and important. Gede agreed a workplan with BasicNeeds in Q1 2016 and is currently working on the establishment of baseline information in the target areas.
Influencing national policies - Gede’s Co Chairing of NACA’s Mental Health Subcommittee will result in further work towards the eventual adoption, by NACA’s overall Technical Working Group, of (Gede driven) protocols regarding the capacity building of HIV-AIDS Adherence Counsellors to screen treat and/or refer a range of mental health conditions. This work will involve a partnership between Gede and other leading agencies and will include the cultural validation of a short screening tool used for depression. This initiative will proceed in tandem with an important 6 month project, which is focused on the cultural validation of mental health tools for the use of VC caregivers in the first instance. This initiative represents a significant advance on current generic models of psychosocial support given to VCs and has attracted the interest of a wide range of stakeholders and will be pivotal in evolving more appropriate VC care throughout Nigeria over time.
Advocacy – in every activity the Foundation undertakes, it will seek to give amplify the voice of those living with mental health conditions who have been, previously, ‘in the shadows’. The BasicNeeds initiative represents perhaps the best opportunity in this regard at the current time, as the focus of the model is to bring those suffering from mental illness to the fore (with technical support from agencies such as Gede). It is envisaged that the BasicNeeds project will support Gede’s overarching advocacy aim of ensuring that mental health is fully integrated into existing national health care platforms.
In all initiatives, Gede seeks to undertake world class and innovative research (published wherever possible) combined with catalytic partnerships which result in strong advocacy positions which make real and long lasting changes at the community level. The projects noted above give Gede a significant presence in policy formation and community based work which are seen as mutually reinforcing. Within this observation lies a recognition that only through influencing national policies and resource allocations can real and long term change be achieved.