Comic Relief – mental health initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Comic Relief has announced £1.8 million of funding available for existing and emerging mental health initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Up to 75% of people living with mental health issues worldwide live in low-middle income countries, and yet only 2% of people with severe mental disorders in low-income countries have access to appropriate treatment.

Living in poverty increases the likelihood of developing a mental health problem; and the effects of mental health problems can increase poverty because often vulnerable households are unable to access or afford mental health care and may be unable to work as a result of their mental illness. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, there are very few mental health specialists and most mental health care is provided only in one or two facilities.

There is an urgent need to address this critical gap.

Comic Relief are interested in funding projects which use at least one of the following approaches:

  • Supporting the establishment of and/or building the capacity of grassroots, community-led mental health self-help groups or user groups, particularly in rural hard to reach contexts where there is little or no access to formal mental health care, or it is unaffordable.
  • Integrating mental health care into the community in low resource settings to address common and more easily-treated issues such as minor depression and anxiety, many of which can be treated effectively without drugs.
  • Training of community health workers to facilitate self-help groups and recognise mental health issues in the community, referring serious cases where referral facilities are available.
  • Tackling stigma and discrimination about mental health in the community, and/or amongst health workers.
  • Community approaches to mental health which embrace local cultures and values.
  • Approaches which empower people with lived experience of mental health issues to participate and advocate for improved mental health care in their community and country.
  • Innovating new, community-led approaches to supporting mental health, or taking proven community mental health approaches to scale.

Funding requests are welcome up to the value of £300,000 each and must be a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 36 months. Activities should take place in Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Zambia or Zimbabwe and applicants must have demonstrated successful experience in advancing mental health care in community settings in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The application process will be one stage and we will be open for proposals from 22nd March to midday on 26th April 2017. Final decisions will be given in October 2017.

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