Mental health patient reading a book.

Rebuilding after ebola – Improving community mental health

Country: Sierra Leone
Category: Improving health

80% of people with mental health conditions live in low and middle income countries. Typically, in Africa, less than 1 in 10 people with severe mental health disorders will receive any treatment or support.

People with long-term mental health problems are often shunned from their communities and face discrimination and abuse as well as finding work and other responsibilities difficult to manage.

In Sierra Leone, CBM has worked closely for several years with the Government and other local partners to improve the treatment available for mental health conditions by setting up services and training health workers such as psychiatric nurses.

This work is now needed more than ever because of the devastating effects of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014-15. Over 14,000 people in Sierra Leone contracted Ebola; around a third lost their lives.

CBM’s mental health programme:

  • Created crucial District Mental Health Units in all 14 districts of the country, run by 20 mental health nurses;
  • provided care in 5 Survivors Clinics;
  • trained health professionals in psychological first aid and basic mental health care provision;
  • provided mental health support and psychosocial support to health workers at Ebola Treatment centres, members of the burial teams, survivors, people with EVD and their families, as well as quarantined communities, and patients suffering long term mental illness.

While the worst of the outbreak is now over, the suffering continues for millions of orphans, survivors and health workers; many people saw loved ones die in particularly distressing ways and some have lost their entire families to Ebola. CBM has been working with our partners to provide vital mental health support to help survivors and others affected by the outbreak.


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