Esterei (pictured left) is a member of CBM's partner Mental Health Users and Carers Association (MEHUCA) local committee, in Malawi. She is a carer for her son, Paul (pictured right), who has a mental health condition.

Mental health in sub-Saharan Africa: researching effective approaches in partnership with people affected by mental illness

People with psychosis and their families are among the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society, and are at high risk of experiencing violence, poverty, homelessness, incarceration and unemployment. In many low- and middle-income countries, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, people with psychosis may also experience forced restraint, prolonged seclusion, sexual assault and other abuses in family homes, health facilities, social care institutions and traditional and spiritual healing centres.

One major challenge in tackling the marginalisation and exclusion of people with the most severely disabling mental conditions in low-income countries is the lack of research and evidence about what works.

SUCCEED: Support, Comprehensive Care and Empowerment for people with psychosocial Disabilities in sub-Saharan Africa is a ground-breaking 6-year research project that aims to address this. The project will generate evidence about how people with significant mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities in Africa can be supported to thrive in their communities.

The project is a partnership between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of Malawi, University of Ibadan in Nigeria, University of Makeni in Sierra Leone and University of Zimbabwe. CBM is providing technical advice and support on community mental health, inclusive development and safeguarding, and linking the universities with the organisations representing people with psychosocial disabilities in the four countries.

The project will produce a manual containing an evidence-based set of options for supporting people with psychosis in their communities, and also provide training for other organisations on how to use the manual, to help ensure that the recommendations can be put into practice.

What makes SUCCEED unique is not just what we’re doing with our partners, but how we’re doing it. We are committed to working with people affected by mental illness through a ‘co-production methodology’, and will make sure that the research direction and priorities are guided by people with lived experience of mental health conditions.

This project is funded by UK aid from the UK government.


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