Children’s mental well-being plays a key role in their development, and it is significantly affected by that of parents or caregivers. Community mental health care models can be integrated into family strengthening programs and train helpers in the community to provide mental health support. In Nigeria, SOS Children’s Villages has begun to use the Problem Management + intervention, seeing positive outcomes.

Problem Management + (PM+) is a mental health intervention targeting people aged 16 or older who are affected by any form of adversity and are experiencing some level of distress. PM+ aims at decreasing early symptoms of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety when there is not yet a need to see a specialist. Certified trainers train helpers in the community to use PM+.

Helpers are frontline workers who directly work with families. Since June 2021, 25 members of SOS Children’s Villages staff in Nigeria have been trained as PM+ helpers.

“For adult members of families within our family strengthening program, the PM+ intervention is quite useful to ensure psychological issues do not deteriorate into full-scale mental health issues, which can lead to the caregiver’s inability to provide adequate care and protection for the children as well as to child-family separation,” says Oluwole Amosu, Programme Development Advisor at SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria.

Problem Management + develops over five weekly sessions, supporting people through the use of evidence-based techniques such as problem solving, stress management and accessing social support.

The trained helpers guide program participants through the sessions so they find out for themselves the source of their emotional and practical issues. The focus is then on what the clients themselves can do and change.

According to Amosu, “PM+ allows clients to identify their problems. We guide them to identify what options they have. This way, they come up with solutions within their circle of influence and control. We enable them to get out of their problems themselves and to take the lead to create change.”

Stigma, shame and cultural beliefs that attribute mental health issues and remain a major barrier to addressing mental health issues. Community models which do not require families to seek the help of a psychologist can help reduce stigma.

SOS Programme Development Advisor-Gender Nandi Dakum observes that language barriers and a general lack of …….


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