Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Five-Year Plan for Mental Health Care in Rural Areas

BasicNeeds is an international development organization with headquarters in the United Kingdom. In 2002, the BasicNeeds branch in Ghana launched a five-year plan to support government efforts in providing community mental health care for the poor and marginalized living in rural areas. BasicNeeds Ghana capacitates physicians and health workers about mental health issues, how to treat them, and how to gain knowledge about appropriate medication. Since its founding, the programme has benefitted more than 19,000 people with mental health issues or epilepsy.

“I used to have sleepless nights and could hardly think clearly. I am at peace with myself and I can work. Our group is vibrant and I like to attend the meeting where I get to interact with others.”

Mohammed Alhassanbeneficiary
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Strengthening community mental health care
Organisation:BasicNeeds Ghana
Country
of Implementation
Ghana

FACTS & FIGURES

  • BasicNeeds Ghana is currently active in 155 of the country’s 216 districts, and there are plans to expand to another 20 districts in the near future.
  • As of 2018, the programme had 569 local peer support groups.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

There is only limited access to community-based mental health care services for persons who are living in remote, hard to reach locations of Ghana.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Community elder participating in a community meeting to discuss mental health issues.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development has provided approximately £4.3 million ($5.9 million) to BasicNeeds Ghana and five other local NGOs and community-based organizations to enhance community mental health care services. The five-year plan seeks to reduce stigma and human rights abuse and to enhance participation of people affected by mental health issues or epilepsy. Using a training team of psychiatrists, psychologists, experienced nurses, and social development workers from the Ghana Health Service and BasicNeeds Ghana, the organization facilitates the training of general physicians and nurses on basic psychiatry, common mental illnesses, epilepsy, and other neuro-psychiatric disorders, their signs and symptoms, as well as their management, which includes diagnoses and the prescribing of common medications. At the same time, public awareness campaigns have improved family relations and have brought mental health care needs into a wider public discussion. More than 500 peer support groups give further support to promoting a positive attitude towards mental health issues.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

The organization’s initial grant was set to expire in 2018, but it has since been extended. BasicNeeds Ghana is currently active in 155 of the country’s 216 districts, and it plans to spread the programme to another 20 districts in the coming years. The trainings are provided in workshop style, usually lasting two or three days, with periodic refresher training workshop(s) held every six months or annually. In addition, BasicNeeds Ghana works on the integration of mental health topics into families, civil society, and state agencies.

The model has been scaled-up in Ghana and can be replicated internationally. It has influenced national public health policies and has contributed to the development and approval of Ghana´s five-year National Mental Health Strategy.

FACTSHEET

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