ATLANTA — The Carter Center’s Mental Health Program in Liberia, in partnership with the Liberia Ministry of Health, has exceeded its goal of training 150 mental health clinicians by 2015, working largely in primary care clinics and hospitals across all 15 counties to provide much needed care. The newest class of 22 clinicians who graduated today brings the total mental health clinicians trained to 166 and will join the effort to improve access to mental health services in Liberia.
“Liberia has made great progress in building a brighter future for its citizens by investing in mental health, an issue affecting many worldwide,” said former U.S. First Lady and Carter Center Co-founder Rosalynn Carter.
Liberia is on course to reach its goal of expanding access to mental health care to 70 percent of the population within the next few years. Previously, this nation of 4.3 million had one psychiatrist to meet the needs of at least 300,000 Liberians suffering from mental illnesses.
The new graduates — made up of Liberian nurses, physician assistants — completed the Carter Center’s six-month, free, Post-Basic Mental Health Training Program in August 2015 in Gbarnga, Bong County, at Phebe School of Nursing.
“This class of graduates marks an important milestone in the shift to strengthen mental health services in Liberia. The Carter Center program graduates have provided life-changing mental health and psycho-social support services throughout Liberia, especially for those facing the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic,” said Dr. Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health in Liberia.
Graduates of the Carter Center program passed a certification exam in August to receive credentials from the Liberian Board of Nursing and Midwifery and the Liberia Physician Assistants Association which allows them to return to their former mid-level positions in primary care clinics as mental health specialists. These graduates have been critical to Liberia’s psycho-social response to Ebola.