DIGNITY Project enhances access to care for people experiencing psychosocial trauma

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Dignity Project
Dignity Project

District Referral Networks have been established in four districts where 45 traditional faith-based healers and 52 community mental health volunteers actively identify and refer people suspected of experiencing psychosocial trauma to mental health professionals for treatment.
This ensures easy access to care for people experiencing psychosocial trauma leading to reduced recovery periods for them.
The establishment of the District Referral Networks formed part of the implementation of the DIGNITY Project, which was in three phases, namely getting informed grounds for mental health intervention in Ghana, strengthening access to timely and quality rehabilitation for survivors of torture and strengthening trauma informed mental health and psychosocial support in Ghana.
The project was implemented from 2018 to 2023 by BasicNeeds-Ghana, a mental health and development advocacy organisation, in partnership with Mental Health Society of Ghana, and sponsored financially and technically by the Danish Institute against Torture (DIGNITY).
The four beneficiary districts were Tamale Metropolis and Zabzugu in the Northern Region and Ga West and Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipalities in the Greater Accra Region.
The project sought to improve access to rehabilitation through trauma-informed mental health and psychosocial support for trauma-affected people.
Mr Hannan Tizaa Legend, Project Coordinator, DIGNITY Project, BasicNeeds-Ghana, who presented the summary of partnership and achievements of the project at a dissemination meeting in Tamale, said it had made significant contributions to access to mental health care and treatment in the country.
The dissemination meeting was attended by various stakeholders including some Traditional Faith-based Healers, formal mental health care practitioners, and representatives of some state institutions engaged in social welfare and human rights amongst others.
Mr Hannan said the project had also strengthened collaboration between 148 Traditional Faith-based Healers and formal mental health care practitioners in the provision of mental health and psychosocial support to survivors of torture and organised violence through information sharing and cross-visits.
He said, “moving forward, we want to strengthen the collaborative care regimes so that it will happen in more districts instead of only the four districts. There is need to also establish more referral networks in other districts”, adding “We are talking to stakeholders to see how best to play their respective roles to ensure that the gains of the project are sustained.”
Mr Bawa Lukman Walbi, Northern Regional Regulatory Officer, Traditional Medicine Practice Council, said the establishment of the collaborative care regimes as part of the project had led to a situation “Whereby traditional healers and formal mental health care practitioners are now collaborating to take care of clients. The traditional healers now allow formal mental health care practitioners to visit their facilities to provide care for their clients and the traditional healers sometimes also visit the formal facilities to share information about their clients.”
Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, Northern Regional Minister, who was represented by the Northern Regional Coordinating Director, commended partners for implementing the project, and said addressing issues of mental health was important to promoting national development.
He expressed need to create local community structures to help sustain the gains made under the project and called on project partners to share their findings with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to feature them in their Action Plans to ensure increased care for people suspected of experiencing psychosocial trauma.
Dr Abubakari Braimah, Acting Northern Regional Director of Health, whose speech was read on his behalf, described the project as impactful and expressed the need for continued capacity building for professionals engaged in rehabilitation of survivors of torture and mental health to ensure enhanced care.
Dr Braimah further called for enforcement of laws to protect the vulnerable in society.

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