Mental Health Advocacy in The Gambia, West Africa
Keywords:Mental illness, mental health, The Gambia, Africa, Stigma
Introduction: To promote mental health globally, including low-and middle-income countries, research and advocacy are essential. The Republic of The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in the world and is the focus of this research.
Purpose: This study examines social and cultural aspects of access to mental health treatment in The Gambia, West Africa.
Methodology: The population of focus consisted of adults over 18 living in The Gambia. The methodological approach was a qualitative phenomenological study involving semi-structured interviews conducted via Zoom, by a researcher from The Gambia.
Results: Data were collected from 17 participants living in The Gambia at the time of the study. A team of analysts with diverse backgrounds evaluated transcripts and identified five themes highlighting social and cultural conceptualizations of mental health and mental illness, sociocultural determinants of health, interventions, barriers to care, and legal frameworks to support mental health change.
Conclusions: The findings from this study are significant for mental health providers who seek to understand different perceptions of mental health and mental illness and the associated stigma. Furthermore, this study suggests several opportunities for mental health advocacy in The Gambia
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