Innovation summary

African Youth in Mind focuses on working with youth and caregivers to adapt and test a stepped care intervention for youth with depression and anxiety, which is tailored to the needs of communities in Ghana and Zimbabwe. Based on country priorities and context, we will shape the intervention in Ghana for those aged 15-18 enrolled in Ghana’s free senior high school system and in Zimbabwe for youth aged 15-24 in schools, colleges and community health settings including sexual health services. We will then evaluate the clinical and economic benefits of the intervention through running a clinical trial in senior high schools in Ghana and feasibility studies in Zimbabwe. Capacity building is also a key component taking place in Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.  

Impact summary

Prof Abas of King’s College London said, “This funding presents a tremendous opportunity to bring together a new dynamic group of researchers to expand the work that we have been undertaking with adults”  Associate Prof Dixon Chibanda, of the University of Zimbabwe and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, “This will give us an opportunity to consolidate our collective lessons from the past 10 years as we move towards scaling evidence-based interventions in Zimbabwe and beyond.”

Innovation details

Our multidisciplinary group of African and UK researchers will work with youth in Ghana and Zimbabwe to adapt and evaluate a stepped care intervention for youth aged 15 to 24 with depression or anxiety, which is suitable to be delivered through task-shifting to non-specialists.

We have previously shown the acceptability and effectiveness of a stepped-care intervention called the Friendship Bench for working age adults in Zimbabwe. This comprises brief psychological therapy, with the option of adding an antidepressant for those who do not recover. We now wish to adapt this for youth.

In the Formative Phase we will apply a theory-informed participatory approach to adapt the intervention, and develop implementation strategies in Zimbabwe and Ghana. Based on country priorities and context, we will tailor the intervention in Ghana for those aged 15-18 enrolled in Ghana’s free senior high school system and in Zimbabwe for youth aged 15-24 in schools, colleges and community health settings including sexual health services.

In the Implementation Phase, in Zimbabwe, we will run a single-arm study to test feasibility of implementing through community, health and education systems, and assess preliminary outcomes. In Ghana we will run a fully powered RCT in senior high schools in Navrongo, to test the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and implementation of our intervention compared to control.  

Partners

  • King’s College London
  • University of Zimbabwe
  • University of Ghana
  • Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi
  • Navrongo Health Research Centre, Ghana

Funders

References

Bhana, A, Kreniske, P, Pather, A, Abas, MA & Mellins, CA 2021, 'Interventions to address the mental health of adolescents and young adults living with or affected by HIV: state of the evidence', Journal of the International AIDS Society, vol. 24, no. S2, e25713. https://doi.org/10.1002/jia2.25713

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Country

Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi

Affiliated organizations

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