Reducing the mental care gap in Africa by offering proven life guidance via chat, enlisting the help of local priests.
The aim of the Life.Guide.Faith project is to connect distressed, isolated people with religious leaders that are trained on a proven effective talking technique, via anonymous chat build into an app.
Stress, worry and mental illness is one of the key challenges the world faces. In Africa, this problem is even bigger due to problems like youth unemployment, poverty, and forced migration. Worse yet, clinical care is nearly absent with less than 1 psychiatrist per 1 million people. Our research showed that in the absence of care people seek help online and at the church.
Because mobile phones are becoming widespread across Africa, we decided to build an app & training that can empower anyone to be a problem solving Life Guide with 5 days of training, in-app support and close supervision. This guidance methodology was proven to be effective in a large clinical trial (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2594719). It was translated into a mobile phone application and successfully tested in Kenya: it really helped people and significantly reduced their mental distress symptoms.
With RightNow! support, the project wants to extend the reach and impact of religious leaders like priests through this mobile-phone based solution. By combining the enormous network of the church in Africa with this new mobile innovation, we create a powerful combination to reach scalable and sustainable impact for people with mental distress.
To illustrate the potential: The number of psychologists in Ghana is less than 1 per 1 million people, which is far from enough. At the same time, there are an estimated 1000 religious leaders per 1 million people, including 150 catholic priests. Imagine the impact if all of these religious leaders can be empowered with our solution to become certified life guides, effectively taking over the easy and preventative part of psychologist work.
This solution will empower the priests to better support and engage with their community on problems they face. Participating priests can obtain a certificate as proof of their skills to operate as a guide. The solution will be entirely digital.
Our next step is to do a pilot with this solution in a diocese in Kenya. We are planning to partner with Pray.com in this pilot.