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Friday, September 22, 2023

Partners to support people with mental health problems in Gambia


Over the weekend, the three – South East Wales Racial Equality Council (Sewrec), Elementary Wellbeing and Women in Need – in collaboration with MhLAP, organised a two-day training for 14 health workers at the Central Medical Stores at Kotu.

The fourteen health workers are from Thrive Gambia, an organisation set up in 2012 in The Gambia by Marion Aslan founder of the Elementary Wellbeing. According to the organisers, 14 health workers were selected because they were regarded as the “strategic points of contact for mental health in their respective clinics and health facilities on women’s mental health in The Gambia.”

MhLAP is currently seeking partnership with relevant authorities and agencies in executing The Wales–Africa Project, which includes mental health promotion in The Gambia.

At the opening of the weekend training programme, Ms Aslan said: “We have said that the partnership wishes to work with partners in The Gambia and Wales to explore and exchange ideas to work effectively with people with mental health problems particularly building people’s natural resilience offering practical and emotional support to finds ways to recover, heal, and thrive.” 

She said the aim of the partnership is to exchange information and skills between the two communities to improve the quality of work undertaken with vulnerable women with mental health needs in both countries.

According to her, through the project, there will be an increased knowledge about developing resilience among women with mental health problems in The Gambia, building the capacity and exposing service users to lead advocacy efforts in the Gambia.

She said families play a crucial role in mental health of patients and that that the two days will avail participants to share experiences and best practices as well as learn new things in mental health issues.

Dawda Samba, country facilitator of MhLAP, reminded the trainees about the importance of the training, saying that “it is a follow-up to the previous one aimed at building the capacities of service providers of mental health.”

He said women’s mental health is “a big issue” in the society adding as they suffer from various stresses including gender-based violence resulting in mental health stress.

Momodou Gassama, WHO communications officer, said mental health issues are “complex and important subjects” and that “a majority of people are affected in one way or the other”.

“WHO is saying mental health needs more focus and attention. Mental health is beyond doctors and we must be determined to address its causes,” he said.

Modou Njai, director of health promotion and communication at the Ministry of Health commended the Welsh and English partners for conducting the training and publication of a manual for mental health in The Gambia. He called on people to support people with mental health problems. 

David Phillip, chief executive officer of Sewrec said their aimed is to work with local partners in area of mental health adding ‘Wales is small country and we can learn from each other through partnerships.’


By Sainey Marenah


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