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The Ministry of Health, through the Directorate of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, in collaboration with The Carter Center, recently concluded a four-day mhGAP-IG Training of Trainers (ToT) at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on Wilkinson Road, Freetown. 

This significant initiative aimed to equip non-specialists and healthcare providers in Sierra Leone with the latest guidelines and strategies for addressing mental health issues, closing the human resource gap in this critical area.

The mhGAP-IG (Mental Health Gap Action Programme Intervention Guide) training is part of ongoing efforts to enhance mental health services and support in Sierra Leone. During the training, participants received updated knowledge and skills essential for effectively identifying, managing, and providing care for individuals with mental health disorders. The comprehensive programme also emphasised the importance of reducing stigma and promoting mental health awareness within communities.

The training was attended by a diverse group of participants, including Doctors, Community Health Officers, Mental Health Nurses, Clinical Psychologists and other stakeholders involved in mental health care. 

The interactive sessions and practical exercises enabled attendees to gain hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of mental health issues and interventions.

Participants were equipped with the latest guidelines and strategies for managing mental health disorders, ensuring they are well-prepared to address the diverse mental health needs of individuals in their communities.

The training highlighted the critical importance of reducing stigma associated with mental health issues. Participants learned effective ways to promote mental health awareness and create supportive environments for individuals with mental health disorders.

By empowering non-specialists and healthcare providers with the necessary tools and knowledge, the training aimed to strengthen the mental health system in Sierra Leone. This initiative is expected to lead to improved and expanded mental health services across the country.

The ToT refresher programme focused on building the capacity of trainers who will, in turn, train other healthcare providers and community workers. This cascading effect is crucial for sustainable improvement in mental health care delivery.

Dr. Santigie Sesay, Director of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, expressed his enthusiasm about the training, stating, "This refresher programme is a significant step towards closing the human resource gap in mental health care in Sierra Leone. By empowering non-specialists healthcare providers, we are ensuring that mental health services reach every corner of the country."

Edwin Smart Johnny, a participant and healthcare provider, shared his experience: "The training has been incredibly insightful. The practical exercises and interactive sessions have equipped me with the skills needed to effectively manage mental health cases in my country. I feel more confident in my ability to provide the necessary care and support."

The successful completion of the mhGAP-IG Training of Trainers refresher marks a positive step forward in the ongoing efforts to improve mental health services in Sierra Leone. The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with The Carter Center, remains committed to continuing this momentum and expanding mental health care throughout the country. By fostering a well-trained and knowledgeable workforce, it is hoped that individuals with mental health disorders will receive the support and care they need to lead fulfilling lives.

For more information about the mhGAP-IG training and other mental health initiatives, please visit the Ministry of Health’s website or contact the Directorate of Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health.