Mental health is a rarely discussed topic in Tanzania. Many of us struggle with mental health challenges but do not have a safe space to vent our innermost sufferings, increasing the burden one endures alone, most of the time leading to depression.
TEWWY has adapted an evidence-based and community led psychosocial interventions to lessen the burden of disability caused by mental, neurological, and substance use conditions. Starting June 16, 2021, Wisdom&Wellness Counselors, who are retired elderly women trained in WHO’s mental health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), officially started providing mental health services to residents of 15 communities within Local Government Authorities (LGAs) in Dar-es-Salaam region. Local communities (“mitaas”) are in the Municipal Councils; whereas, villages are in the District Councils. The communities and villages are the lowest levels of the government structure in Tanzania.
Why start in the local government at community level?
We launched TEWWY’s mental health intervention program in 15 communities across the municipal cities of Dar-es-Salaam, namely: Ilala, Kigamboni, Kinondoni, Temeke and Ubungo. The underlying reason for starting at the community level is that people know each other well and it is culturally expected that problems facing an individual will meet the attention of the community in the grassroots.
In each of the 5 municipalities we provide services in 3 communities. The limited number of communities is due to the limited resources that TEWWY has for this project.
|1||Ilala|| Tabata|| Tabata|
Mbezi Beach A
Integrating mental health services into non-specialized health settings such as local government authority is crucial to ensuring healthy lives and promotes well-being for all at all ages, hence encouraging policy-change. Raising awareness minimizes stigmatization and discrimination and removes the risk of human rights violations towards people with Mental, Neurological & Substance Use (MNS) conditions. TEWWY plans to scale up its current project in Dar-es-Salaam to other regions in the country and implement a Mental Health Intervention Program in government and private schools in Tanzania. TEWWY’s Mental Health Intervention Programs aim to:
- Deliver a range of psychosocial services to support individuals in underserved communities and key populations impacted by Mental, Neurological and Substance Use (MNS) conditions;
- Change lives by giving the gift of elderly/grandmotherly wisdom and a shoulder to lean on to persons dealing with heterogeneous mental health challenges;
- Raise awareness on mental health and MNS conditions in efforts of eliminating stigma and discrimination in communities;
- Advocate for policy and system change which accord rights and benefits to individuals and underserved communities with MNS conditions
- Promote mental health and wellbeing for all individuals through interpersonal counseling, psychoeducation, support (such as training, hospital/specialist referral etc) and strengthening social supports within the community
A multisectoral approach at the point of service delivery is vital for the assessment, diagnosis and management of Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use (MNS) conditions. We have proven success in implementation of TEWWY’s Mental Health Intervention Programs by closely collaborating with stakeholders. As TEWWY’s slogan goes, “Together we are Strong, to Inspire and to Achieve”