King's Sierra Leone Partnership is committed to supporting the Sierra Leonean Government in their ambition to developing comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health, psychosocial support and social care services in hospital and community-based settings.
The King´s Sierra Leone partnership (KSLP) is a long-term capacity building partnership between King´s Health Partners in London and key partner institutions in Freetown, Sierra Leone. KSLP aims to help strengthen Sierra Leone’s health system by improving training, clinical services, policy and research. Key partners include the College of Medicine & Allied Health Sciences, Connaught Government Hospital (the main adult teaching and referral hospital) and the Ministry of Health & Sanitation.
Since January 2013 King´s has had an in-country team of volunteers, who are supported by senior experts from UK. The in-country team includes a Programme Director and a range of key leads from a range of disciplines such as clinical work, hospital management, pharmacy & training, and nursing.
The gap in mental health
The gap in mental health care provision in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) has been an important contributor to the rising global burden of disease. Mental disorders are an important cause of long-term distress and suffering, affecting the functioning and productivity of millions of people worldwide. There is a severe lack of funding in mental health services within LMIC, spending on mental health is far lower than needed based on the burden of disease and the availability of cost effective and affordable interventions. In Sierra Leone, the mental health treatment gap exceeds 95%, with one trained psychiatrist and one mental health hospital for a population of over six million. There are 20 psychiatric mental health nurses who are a key component of new development of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support approaches and a move towards more community approach to delivering health care complementing the scarce secondary care.
The after-effects on the 2014 Ebola outbreak
Emergency situations, such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak which has claimed the lives of more than 3,500 Sierra Leoneans, threatens to abate the provision of already limited mental health services, and care for mental distress has been seen as secondary to immediate public health concerns. Following the Ebola outbreak there has been an increase in the number of people reporting mental health and psychosocial problems. It is clear that providing good mental health care and psychosocial support that is well integrated into existing healthcare systems is economically sound and leads to better outcomes for those with mental and psychosocial disorders and other health conditions.
KSLP's commitment to mental health care
KSLP is committed to supporting the Ministry of Health & Sanitation (MOHS) in its ambition to provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health, psychosocial support and social care services in community-based settings. Our in-country team currently includes a Mental Health Co-ordinator & Volunteer Mental Health Doctor and Volunteer Mental Health Nurse.
Summary of relevant work
Our work is varied and includes working with the MOHS:
To establish district mental health and psychosocial units
To child and adolescent and maternal mental health services
To provide ongoing training and clinical supervision to the newly trained mental health nurses
To develop record-keeping and monitoring and evaluation tools to strengthen mental health informations systems
To provide technical support on mental health policy, strategy and planning
To support undergraduate psychiatry teaching for medical students and nursing students
To support postgraduate psychiatry training for doctors and community health officers
To produce high quality mental health research in collaboration with local and international partners