We propose to develop a hub by the name Partnership for Mental Health Development in Sub-Saharan Africa (PaM-D). The hub is aimed at creating an infrastructure to develop mental health (MH) research capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and to advance global MH science by conducting innovative public health-relevant MH research in the region. The hub will bring together institutions in six countries in great need for major improvements in their health systems: Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Liberia with outstanding researchers from institutions in the US and UK, in partnership with government departments and non-governmental organizations. It will consist of a multidisciplinary team of internationally renowned researchers whose direct experience about the complex and peculiar mental health situations in Africa will be channeled towards addressing the diverse needs associated with low policy priority for mental health, extreme paucity of human resources, poor community awareness, low recognition of mental health conditions and under-treatment of those conditions.
The aims i nclude: (1) bringing together service providers, policy makers, and researchers with expertise in global MH to create a Sub-Saharan MH Research Hub that will establish itself as a regional center supporting research capacity-building and innovative MH service development in the region, focusing, initially, on expanding service for persons suffering from one of the most disabling mental health problems: psychosis and (2) developing and implementing targeted programs of training and mentoring that build mental health research capacity in a broad range of mental health professionals with a view to creating and supporting a critical mass of experts for innovative mental health research to address the region's mental health needs.
Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are in great need of MH service scale-up to address the growing burden of MH conditions. The proposed hub will conduct empirical research on task-shifting approaches with potentials to help the countries meet this need.. Capacity for mental health research will be developed in a broad range of professionals to create a critical mass of researchers able to secure research funding, address community's mental health needs and provide evidence for mental health policy development.