Africa Mental Health Foundation Services

Areas of Focus

Community Mental Health

community

This is our core priority. We seek to take mental health to the level of the individual and the family; to their homes or to the nearest point of care such as the community dispensary, health centre or outreach point. We take a cross-sectional, multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach that seeks to identify and engage with all community stakeholders and all community physical and human resources who have contact with people with mental disorders. This involves both formal and informal sector administrators, opinion leaders and policy makers as well as the integration of different disciplines such as psychiatry, counselling, clinical psychology, nursing, human rights, health economics, anthropology, social science among many more. We align our approach on the MhGAP Intervention Guide and the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2014.

An Integrated Approach to Non-communicable Diseases Interventions

We conduct research on the integration of mental health in the treatment and management of chronic non-communicable diseases such as:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Hypertension
  3. Cancer
2

Early childhood development

3

Sound mental health is an important foundation to the holistic development of individuals and their ability to achieve success in school, work, and social interactions and contribute positively to the development of their communities.

We seek to use tried and tested approaches to promote mental well-being and support positive cognitive development to break the vicious cycle of mental illness from continuing through adulthood and having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of the individual.

School mental health including substance abuse

Poor mental health in school going children has been directly related to school dropout, difficulties in learning, behavioral problems, poor performance in school and truancy. Schools provide a great setting to promote mental well being, prevent mental illness, facilitate early identification and intervention for children with mental illnesses and combat stigma associated with mental illness. Substance abuse also continues to be highly prevalent in the school setting with opportunity for induction into substance abuse.

Our work in this area focuses on mental health integration in schools as well as developing interventions that prevent early onset of mental illnesses and address risk of substance abuse.

5

Suicide

6

We focus on the identification of suicide predictors by identifying risk and protective factors for suicide, and barriers and facilitators to uptake of services. This information is key in informing policy and interventions toward the prevention of suicide.

LGBT Mental Health

With several studies suggesting that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals appear to have higher rates of some mental disorders compared with heterosexuals, we are looking into similar communities within the African setting to address the following questions:

  1. What are the prevalence rates for mental health problems in this community
  2. What are the factors that trigger presence of mental health problems in this community within the African socio-cultural setting
  3. What types of interventions work best for building resilience and improving mental health within this community?
7

Cost-effective biological and psychosocial Interventions for the various types of mental illnesses and substance use disorders

8

The high cost of mental health service is one of the main barriers to access in many low and middle income countries.

Our ultimate goal is to develop affordable evidence-based mental health and substance use interventions and services that are available and accessible.

Genetics and Genomics.

We are venturing into genetics and genomics to identify the Biomarkers of mental and neurological illnesses like bipolar disorder, epilepsy and autism.

The above do not necessarily cover everything that we do. We accommodate anybody with a research proposal with the potential to make a positive contribution towards making affordable and evidence-based mental health services available and accessible to everyone.

9

Our Successes

We have developed custom infrastructure consisting of physical successfacilities, researchers and research support and management staff.  With 25 permanent staff and a further 25 field staff all working or supporting mental health research, we are one of the leading mental health research and advocacy institutions in the region.

We have a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Kenya, between the National Ministry of Health and AMHF to conduct mental health research to inform policy and practice and have received recognition for our work by the National Senate.

We have successfully persuaded two County Governments in Kenya to allocate budget for mental health and psychosocial rehabilitation after we demonstrated to them the effectiveness of community-based interventions and interventions for school-based mental health. In one County, we have received, free of charge, office space in the offices of the Ministry of Education and an industrial space from the Ministry of Trade, Economic Planning & Industrialization and the Micro & Small Enterprises Authority to set up a social enterprise model for persons with mental illness and their families.

Most importantly, the impact of our work with individuals, families and communities has led to: reduced stigma towards mental illness; increased demand and access to mental health services; improved health and social outcomes for patients including improved social integration and economic empowerment; increased health worker capacity to screen, identify, treat and manage mental illnesses and substance use disorders; and renewed commitment by community leadership and policy makers to integrate mental health services in primary health care.