Partnership between GEI, NBCC International and the University of Rwanda
According to World Health Organization (2005) estimates, over 450 million people live with unmet mental health needs. Developing countries in particular often have a critical shortage of mental health professionals, and the resulting unmet mental health needs are costly both socially and economically.
Rwanda is one such country. While its medical system is generally lauded as a major African success story, the field of mental health continues to be underserved. In particular, providing adequate counseling and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder following the 1994 genocide is a considerable challenge to the existing capacity in Rwanda.
What the country needs, first and foremost, is to greatly expand service capacity. To achieve this in a sustainable way, it has to be driven by local institutions such as the Ministry of Health and the University of Rwanda. International collaborative efforts, however, can make significant contributions, especially if based on people-centered capacity development and models for professional and academic exchange.
In 2015, we launched a comprehensive partnership with the Center for Mental Health (CMH) at the University of Rwanda‘s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, as well as further international partners such as NBCC International, a division of the National Board for Certified Counselors in the USA. It currently builds on three main pillars:
- Mental Health Faciliator (MHF) training: Last summer, we piloted a first MHF training program in Kigali. 30 Rwandan and American participants took the 30-hour curriculum. It is a program of NBCC International and aims to improve access to community-based mental health care. Further program dates for 2016 and 2017 will be announced soon, and we will then accept applications from interested mental health professionals and graduate students from around the world.
- Global Mental Health Conference: On June 27 to July 1, we will co-host the annual Global Mental Health Conference in Kigali. This year’s theme is “Mental Health Care Practice in Rwanda”. Each day will focus on a different pillar of the care system, including psychiatry, social work, mental health nursing and clinical psychology. Case studies and accounts of clinical practice will alternate with interactive elements, such as group discussions, excursions and site visits. Interested mental health professionals and students from around the world are welcome. More information.
- Global Mental Health internships and volunteer placements: In connection with the Conference, the CMH and GEI will also offer opportunities for mental health students and professionals from around the world to volunteer their time and expertise during internships or volunteer placements with local CMH partner organizations (typically Rwandan or international NGOs) or the CMH itself (e.g. for research projects). These placements start on July 2 and are either 4 weeks or 8 weeks in duration. CMH faculty members provide the academic supervision, and GEI staff coordinate the program. Students will be able to obtain academic credit both from the University of Rwanda as well as the academic school of record, The College of New Jersey. We are now accepting applications. More information.
Interested students and professionals may now apply to join our efforts. We also welcome ideas for additional institutional partnerships.