Blantyre Mental Health champions get smartphones for psycho-social services

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In a bid to complement efforts on reducing mental health-related deaths in the country, ANPPCAN Lifeline – Malawi, has given smartphones to mental health champions in Blantyre which will be used to provide psycho-social therapy services and information to victims.

On Saturday, 23 March 2024, ANPPCAN Lifeline – Malawi, gave ten mental health champions who underwent mental health training, a smartphone each, an initiative that the organization’s Deputy Director, Henderson Mhango said is aimed at reducing cases of mental health-related deaths.

Mhango said ANPPCAN Lifeline Malawi is currently implementing a project on mental health awareness and suicide prevention in Blantyre, Chiradzulu as well as Zomba, and it has also launched a Campaign called decriminalized Suicide Attempt laws in the Penal Code to ensure Mental Health victims are served in the hospitals rather than being arrested and kept in prisons.

He also said that the project aims at increasing knowledge on suicide prevention and mental health awareness, helping individuals with mental health issues to have access to psycho-social therapist’s services and information through the trained champions.

The Deputy Director added that the smartphones they have received will also be used to respond to mental health and suicide crises while providing psycho-social therapy services and information.

 “Our goal is to ensure the availability of preventative information and services on mental health illness and reduce suicidal cases to 5% in three selected districts of Blantyre, Chiradzulu, and Zomba which is currently at 11.6 per 100,000 people higher than the global average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.

 “ANPPCAN Lifeline in Collaboration with the Ministry of Health will train 10 counselors who will be selected from different Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) within the selected districts and they will be given phones to respond to mental health and suicide crisis,” said Mhango.

Mhango further highlighted that one of the challenges leading to increased cases of suicide is the lack of mental health experts who can attend to people in times of such a crisis and he said it is on that background that his organization has thought of bringing mental health champions.

He has however encouraged the mental health champions to be more professional and bring good results, especially when handling cases using gadgets.

In 2023, statistics show that in Malawi 366 people committed suicide and among the population, 332 were men while 34 were women.

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