August 21, 2014

Building Capacity for Mental Health Care in Ghana

Austin Jaspers, 2014 GHLI Fellow

Even before my time in Accra as a GHLI fellow reached its endpoint, I started plotting ways I could return and continue Yale’s long-standing partnership with Ghana in the area of mental health. This summer, I contributed as a member of a team dedicated to improving community-based mental health care in Ghana. Stakeholders and experts hailing from both sides of the Atlantic exchanged big ideas, new concepts and countless drafts as we moved forward in designing a new training program for the Psych Corps.

I learned about lay counseling and mental health care from the standpoint of a practitioner while simultaneously supporting the high-level operations of the Ghana Psych Corps.  As part of the National Service scheme, the program faces the unique challenge of refreshing its entire workforce on a yearly basis while attempting to build upon collective experiences.

In collaboration with faculty at Yale to gather data from community mental health workers and conducted qualitative interviews which enabled us to understand the Psych Corps’ role in the broader health system and identify opportunities to improve the program. 

I worked with colleagues in Ghana to build a sustainable and effective supervisory structure for Psych Corps. This improved framework will be part of the training toolkit we will present with our colleagues from Ghana at the GHLI Forum for Change in Accra this fall.

With the Psych Corps serving on the frontlines, I am optimistic that Ghana will steadily grow its capacity to deliver mental health services in the coming years.

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