The Friendship Bench

UNITED FOR GLOBAL MENTAL HEALTH

The Friendship Bench: Grandmothers boost mental health in Zimbabwe

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visits The Friendship Bench.

SOLUTION

The Friendship Bench programme, developed in 2006 in Zimbabwe by Professor Dixon Chibanda, received royal attention at the Global Summit for Mental Health in London on 9 & 10 October.

As one of just 12 psychiatrists in a country of 14 million people, Dixon realised the need for mental health services was immense and had the brilliant idea of turning to grandmothers in his community – traditionally loved, respected and revered. He realised they were not just great listeners but also, with training, could dispense appropriate support, delivered in a way that would respond to the needs of their communities. And they do this now, hundreds of them, every single day across Zimbabwe – giving support to tens of thousands of people – saving many lives. Sessions take place on a simple bench, under the African sky.

An exact replica of the original bench was made and placed in front of United for Global Mental Health’s vision: “Everyone, everywhere should have someone to turn to in support of their mental health”. Delegates took photos holding the sign #someone2turn2.

COLLABORATORS

United for global mental health

“We want to help ensure that proven ways to improve mental health, such as the Friendship Bench, can be funded, grown and shared between countries and continents, to help millions of people and save lives around the world,”.
– Elisha London

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