OF ORIGINAL GRANT Mental health disorders are among the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Yet despite the heavy burden of mental illness, the mental health treatment capacity of most sub-Saharan African health systems is extremely limited. The median number of mental health professionals per 100,000 population among Sub-Saharan African nations is less than one-fiftieth of that found in the United States, and over three- quarters of those needing mental health treatment in the region have no access to any such treatment. Although effective mental health treatment interventions are well defined in high-income countries, their deployment in low- and middle-income countries is limited due to few adequately trained personnel and lack of implementation science research that addresses the challenges of adapting evidence-based interventions to low-resource contexts. The proposed Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Partnership for Mental Health Capacity Building, or SHARP, will make a critical contribution to closing the mental health treatment gap in sub-Saharan Africa. SHARP represents a partnership of research, academic, and non-profit organizations and Ministry of Health representatives in Malawi and Tanzania with an exceptional track record of impactful research and translation of research into practice. The overall objective of SHARP is to expand mental health treatment in the region through high-quality, impactful implementation science research; development of research and implementation capacity among governmental, academic, and non-governmental partners; and enhancement of dialogue between those partners. SHARP will achieve this objective through the coordinated and synergistic efforts of its Administrative, Scale-Up Study, and Capacity-Building Cores. The Administrative Core will provide a robust structure for administering the grant, coordinating communication across all study partners, and enhancing dialogue across a range of key stakeholders. The Scale-Up Study Core will lead an implementation science research study focusing on the integration of depression treatment into routine non-communicable diseases care and addressing a key barrier faced by the Ministry of Health in its current efforts to expand mental health treatment. The Capacity-Building Core will offer a comprehensive menu of short training courses in implementation science and mental health interventions, a pilot grants program to provide applied skills in implementation research and translation, and a ?Mentor the mentors? training program to increase mentoring capacity in implementation science and mental health research. Overall, SHARP will make a substantial contribution to increasing mental health research and treatment capacity in Malawi, Tanzania, and the broader region.

Public Health Relevance

The Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Partnership (SHARP) for Mental Health Capacity Building seeks to make a meaningful impact on the mental health treatment gap in sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership brings together governmental, academic, and non-governmental partners invested in mental health research and treatment. SHARP will conduct critical implementation science research and build capacity among researchers and policy makers to facilitate scale-up of evidence-based mental health treatment in Malawi, Tanzania, and sub-Saharan Africa.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Program--Cooperative Agreements (U19)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
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Greenwood, Gregory
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
Chapel Hill
United States
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