Delivering Mental Health Programmes in Lesotho

Categories: NewsPublished On: 24th July, 2023504 words2.5 min read

Delivering Mental Health Programmes in Lesotho

Categories: NewsPublished On: 24th July, 202322.9 min read

Reflections on a Shared Learning Event

By Emma Beacham, Development Support Manager at Hub Cymru Africa

This event focused on the learning from the highly successful Betsi-Quthing link Mental Health Stakeholder training project, which was funded through the Wales and Africa programme. It was hosted by the North Wales African Society at the Bangor African and Caribbean Centre on 1st July 2023, with 26 participants from across North Wales.

The Betsi-Quthing link was the first partnership that I worked with through Hub Cymru Africa’s Advance mentoring programme when I started in 2018, and the North Wales African Society were my second organisation, which I supported with upon their founding in 2019. I learnt an amazing amount from working with both groups, and it was great to see the growth and development of their work and the collaboration between them, with mutual goals and synergies. It felt like we were achieving exactly what Hub Cymru Africa is here to facilitate: peer learning and mutual exchange, shared experience and networking, and a celebration of Wales-Africa partnerships.

We were fortunate to have colleagues, Sister Thibinyane and John Bohloko, visiting from Lesotho, and it was a real privilege to hear from them directly about their experience of working on the project.

John Bohloko, the Health Information Officer for Quthing district, set the scene with a broad introduction to the healthcare system in Lesotho, and Sr Thibinyane, a mental health professional, followed this with an overview of the project and learning. She outlined the many challenges facing mental health care, including limited services and capacity in health care professionals, lack of data on incidence (partly due to stigma), and traditional beliefs about spiritual causes for conditions, which inhibits individuals from seeking help and treatment.

This led to the development of the project using a collaborative health care model. The objectives were to improve understanding of mental health and mental illness, including signs and symptoms, and train participants in prevention and mental health first aid. A total of 414 participants completed the training, which was well received. Challenges persisted in reevaluating attitudes towards traditional healers, who play a key role in treatment for many in Lesotho.

Following discussion, clinical psychologist Laura Holdsworth gave a presentation about her research into the impact of Covid-19 on mental health professionals in Lesotho, and we discussed this in relation to other countries, including Wales. It was felt that though the challenges in the respective countries were unique, several findings were similar.

We also received a short introduction to the North Wales African Society, whose members shared excellent clinical experience from their work in Nigeria and Zimbabwe during the discussions.

Following a delicious lunch of African food, the afternoon session focused on ideas for future directions for the Betsi-Quthing link, with some time for networking at the end. We look forward to the next event to continue our conversations!

This Shared Learning Event was jointly organised by the Wales and Africa Health Links Network and Hub Cymru Africa.

To view photos from this event, please visit our Flickr album.