Train Faith Leaders to Tackle Africa’s Mental Health Needs

BY Chiwoza Bandawe

The world is actually in the throes of two pandemics. The first is COVID-19. The second is the wave of stress and anxiety, depression and substance use it has unleashed around the world. Most mental health disorders are treatable.

This so called “second pandemic” is raging in poor and wealthy countries alike. But across Africa, and in much of the Global South, people facing mental health crises have nowhere to turn.

The reason is that governments and aid agencies are not making the investments needed to provide these services. In the lead up to “World Mental Health Day,” the World Federation for Mental Health recently released new statistics on the share of health budgets that nations and international donors devote to mental health.

It is miniscule – between one and two percent – even though the WHO calculates that every US$ 1 invested in scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety returns US$ 5 in improved health and productivity.