Austin Jaspers, 2014 GHLI Fellow
I am thrilled to be in Ghana this summer to take part in the country’s ongoing partnership with GHLI. Within two days of touching down in Accra, I met with the Mental Health Technical Support Team at the Ghana Health Service headquarters to discuss plans for this summer and beyond. The GHLI Forum for Change is steadily taking shape and it will be hosted in Accra in autumn 2014.
In addition to helping organize this upcoming event, I am collaborating with stakeholders in Ghana and psychiatrists at Yale to draft a training toolkit for community mental health workers here. In my first few weeks, I have applied concepts and techniques I learned in GHLI Faculty Director Elizabeth Bradley’s course on Strategic Thinking in Global Health by engaging with people at every level of the mental health system.
Improving mental health care is a strategic priority for the country, where capacity and resources for treatment are lacking. Parliament made major headway when it passed the Mental Health Bill. One of its provisions created the Psych Corps program to deploy Ghanaians with bachelor’s degrees in psychology to clinics and hospitals across the country. The next group of 74 Psych Corps enters service in September and they will receive a copy of the toolkit at orientation.
This exciting work builds on the longstanding collaboration between clinicians, policymakers, researchers, professors, and NGOs in Ghana with their colleagues at Yale. I first met the Ghanaian delegation during their visit to New Haven in June 2013 while serving as a Student Ambassador at the GHLI Conference. Since then, I have followed the progress of their accomplishments, and now I have the special opportunity to be in country to contribute to this important work that delivers impact for the Ghanaian people.