SMART Africa Hub

The Strengthening Mental Health and Research Training In Africa (SMART AFRICA) project came about as a result of existing collaborations with the New York University in several other projects. The project is funded by National Institute of Mental Health (U19 MH110001). The specific aim of the project is to establish and engage a trans-disciplinary research consortium of academic, government, NGO, Community and cultural stakeholders in Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa to focus on addressing child mental health burden, EBP implementation, scale-up and service gaps. The project is also to build mental health implementation research capacity which includes developing monitoring systems, conducting small-scale implementation studies in two countries, Ghana and Kenya. It is also to conduct an EBP scale-up research study in Uganda which will examine multi-level influences on the uptake, implementation, effectiveness and sustainability of EBPs that address serious child disruptive behavioural challenges. The final aim of the project is to disseminate timely and pragmatic findings to government officials like the Ministries of Health and Education and consortium partners to optimize rollouts of EBPs and scale-up process via an African Policy Research Advisory Board, consisting of an expanded network of scientist, NGOs and government officials. 

The key partners of this project are New York University Silver School of Social Work, University of Ghana School of Public Health, McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research, ichad Columbia University and AfriChild. 

Mr. Aaron Adarkwa of the Ghana Education Service presented the overview of the Ghana’s School Based Health System. In his submissions he mentioned that the goal of the School Health System is to ensure the provision of comprehensive health and nutrition education and related support services in schools to equip children with basic life skills for healthy living, which will lead to improvements in child survival and educational outcomes, including school enrollment, retention and academic performance. 

Mr. Aaron Adarkwa, Ghana Education Service

Mr. Peter Yaro of BasicNeeds Ghana gave insight into the Mental Health System in Ghana and mentioned that Mental Health Care in Ghana is overly medicalized, specialized and centralized. Mr. Yaro emphasized that stakeholders should not demonize the other outlets that deal with mental health like the herbalist and prayer camps because if you establish a good relationship with such individuals they will refer patients to the health directorate. He acknowledged the activities of the SMART Africa in steering up mental health issues in Ghana. 

Dr. Asampong leading a discussion on presentations made by Mr. Adarkwa and Mr. Yaro

Also in attendance at the meeting was the Uganda team led by Mr. Abel Mwebembezi to share their experience in creating the SMART Uganda Hub as well as Dr. Ozge Sensoy Bahar a Research Assistant Professor at the Brown School Washington University in St. Louis.

Mr. Abel Mwebembezi , SMART Africa (Uganda) giving his presentation

Ms. Miriam Mukasa , SMART Africa (Uganda) giving her presentation


At the end of the meeting there were discussions on how to establish a SMART Africa Hub Resource based at the School of Public Health. 

Participants discussing on establising the SMART Africa Hub, Ghana and implementing Interventions