Mental and psycho-social health which includes trauma, abuse and violence on children, youth and women are still largely ignored areas of the society. In Ethiopia alone, it is estimated that more than 20 million Ethiopians have mental health issues, while less than 10% receive any treatment and less than 1% receive specialist care. Psychiatrists are extremely scarce and in population of over 101 million, there are only 63 psychiatrists yielding a ratio of 0.65 psychiatrists to 1 million people. Most psychiatrists are concentrated in the large cities and more than 80% of the populations of lives in rural areas.
Since 2013, We have reached more than 10 million radio audiences through a weekly radio show on areas of wellness, Youth development, child development, reconciliation, peace, family therapy and mental health. Erk Mead Media and Communication is a pioneer centre in Ethiopia that offers social awareness, psychological therapy, psychosocial training for youth, couples and marriage counselling and support for children and families. The programme includes support offered through a bi-weekly radio show on mental health, depression, forgiveness therapy, reconciliation, trauma and child and women psychosocial health. Other support services include a range of support under a fee-based model. The programme is a social enterprise and revenue from the radio show subsidizes the free mental health service for the community members. The programme addresses thousands of women, children and youth in group therapy setups, individual counselling, different trainings for free.
The radio program has a reality show format and people come and share their true stories of mental and social health issues. Currently, the project is expanding its reach and starts school based mental and social health programme called SEED WELLNESS. It addresses school community members (families, teachers and school counsellors) on integrated solution for quality education and youth led community impacts with digital technology support. The solution is ready to scale up on integrating mental and social health services into the normal setup and bring wellbeing to the nation.
Making it to the top 30 health innovators of WHO HEALTH INNOVATION 2019 CHALLENGE was one of the big success we had at our company in this year. It was not easy to make it from more than 2400 projects from 77 countries. Once we reached to Cape Verde for the conference, we were introduced to each other and we loved the setup and the whole arrangement. Cape Verde is such a beautiful country with very welcoming people. We all were excited till we officially launch our booth area. It was on Tuesday March 26, 2019 that we showed up for the first time at our exhibition booth where everyone represented it country and project. The first session was the visit of the President of Cape Verde and WHO Africa Director. They personally approached my booth and gave time to listen to our health innovation. It was a very important few minutes to show case what we do to make sure that universal health coverage on mental and social health is as important as other health topics.
We spent the whole day by showcasing our health innovation and the main conference was also taking place. We have met important investors, health experts, volunteers, technology experts and international organization representatives. The second day was full of networking and pitching for the visitors. I took an old stereo from Ethiopia to the conference place and it was eye-catching. We all have radio either at home or in the car or on our cell phones. Everyone loved it and I was also playing a background music of Cape Verdeans. Every place was a networking place. A very passionate volunteers assigned by WHO, who are university students made our stay easy and productive. The WHO team and Enterpriseroom also was there for us to shine better. On the final day, we danced with the local music and also we did a final round of physical exercise which they call it “meshi meshi” in local language. It was also a great honour to be called each of us to the stage and celebrated our championship with WHO high level staff.
I have observed that African innovation really matters as participants were really making impact on the ground with any available tool they have at hand; call it mobile app or media or motor bicycle.
We thank you all!