Ready to scale
Mental and psycho-social health which includes trauma, abuse and violence are still largely ignored areas of society. In Ethiopia alone, it is estimated that more than 20 million Ethiopians have some kind of mental health issue, while less than 10% receive any treatment and less than 1% receive specialist care. Psychiatrists are extremely scarce and most psychiatrists are concentrated in the large cities. For example in a population of over 101 million, there are only 63 psychiatrists yielding a ratio of 0.65 psychiatrists to 1 million people.
Ephrem Bekele Woldeyesus has a background in mental health counselling and media. Since 2013, he has reached more than 10 million radio audiences through a weekly radio show on areas of wellness, youth and child development, reconciliation, peace, family therapy and mental health. He is the project designer and director of a social enterprise project Integrated Mental Wellness Programme where he uses social media to drive social change with an aggregate of more than 5 Million Facebook and YouTube engagements. Erk Mead Media and Communication is a pioneering 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 initiative 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, and different trainings for free. The radio programme has a reality show format and people come and share their true stories of mental and social health issues. The project will soon expand to a school-based mental and social health programme called SEED WELLNESS to support the families, teachers and counsellors through an integrated solution for quality education and youth-led community impact supported by digital technology.