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Mental health capacity building in northern Sierra Leone: lessons learned and issues raised

Shackman, Jane; Price, Brian K.

doi: 10.1097/WTF.0000000000000010

Ten years after a brutal and protracted war, Sierra Leone remains very much in recovery. Despite the need for increased and long term mental health services, such resources remain scarce. Mental health capacity building is required, and includes: the community sensitisation of mental illness and treatment; the training of health professionals and lay persons; the advocacy for changes in national mental health policy; and the provision of mental health services. The authors worked during a two-year period (2010 – 2012), supporting a community mental health capacity building project in northern Sierra Leone that was designed to address these issues. A study was conducted among different agency and community stakeholders to assist in the end-of-cycle programme evaluation. The results illustrate the broader challenges of providing mental health services in the county, and a discussion of issues and challenges that are likely to be applicable to similar projects in Sierra Leone, and other low or middle income countries, is provided.

Jane Shackman, BA is a social worker, based in Swindon, United Kingdom. She works as a trainer and consultant in trauma, crisis and victim support. email:

Brian Price, PhD, is with the Department of Counseling of the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago (IL), United States of America.

© 2013 War Trauma Foundation, Diemen, The Netherlands