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In the USA, we could model ourselves after this dynamic mental health support solution

February 17, 2018

We read over and over that in the United States we are not meeting the needs of our community in many ways, including mental health support. What if we took a totally different tactic - what if we built a more reliable, stable solution for mental health support like psychiatrist Dr Dixon Chibanda is doing in Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe has a huge mental health services problem - there are only 12 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe - for a population of more than 16 million. Dr Chibanda solution? He first asked what did his country have an abundance of - grandmothers. Chibanda then started training grandmothers in evidence based talk therapy and created the Friendship Bench Project! Chibanda said, "So I thought, how about training grandmothers in evidence-based talk therapy, which they can deliver on a bench? Empower them with the skills to listen, to show empathy, all of that rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy; empower them with the skills to provide behavior activation, activity scheduling; and support them using digital technology.You know, mobile phone technology. Pretty much everyone in Africa has a mobile phone today."

 

I'd say most grandmothers already have these skills - we could tap into their wisdom and help so many!

 

You can learn more about these amazing grandmothers here. And read more about the project here.

 

NPR ran a news piece on the project and you can read it here.

 

 

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