From the Director

Keeping Dreams Alive

During the last 5 years, several innovative and creative methods were used to ensure that at least some mental health professionals received a little training in Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) to equip them in their work with children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. Partnerships between better-resourced and resource-limited regions of the world were forged, multi-professional and multidisciplinary approaches were embraced, and workshops were held with the financial support of several organizations; these funds were supplemented with payments from mental health professionals who had recognized their need for CAMH skills. These short courses usually lasted for 3 to 5 days; participants rated these short courses highly but always made requests for longer training courses that were affordable and accessible. With half of Africa’s populations being children and adolescents, one in every five having a treatable and recognizable disorder, and half of psychiatric illnesses starting before children reach the age of 14, mental health professionals now realize that CAMH skills are crucial for effective practice in Africa.

A multidisciplinary team of academic clinicians and researchers from the University of Ibadan (UI) was brought together in 2008 to establish a mental health outreach clinic and to provide mental health promotional services and training programmes to the children and staff of the Ibadan Remand Home, which is one of the facilities of the juvenile justice system in Oyo State. The MacArthur Foundation provided the financial support to the University of Ibadan that enabled that upgrade of the existing mental health outreach programme at the home. The team from 2008 forms the core of the team involved in starting the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation-funded University of Ibadan Centre of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Mental Health (C-CAMH). There will be several guest lecturers from world-renowned institutions that will complement the UI core faculty in serving the centre. While the primary role of C-CAMH will be to develop, implement and support an 18-month Master of Science programme in Child and Adolescent Mental Health (MSc. CAMH), the centre will support other activities in training, research and service.

C-CAMH will produce much needed CAMH professionals with a strong public health background; these professionals will offer services as well as carry out research and training in the promotion of mental well-being, prevention of mental illnesses, treatment of mental disorders, and rehabilitation of children or adolescents in recovery. C-CAMH will identify and train CAMH professionals who will lead the transformation of CAMH care on the African continent.

C-CAMH will work to “keep the dreams of our children alive on the continent”. An 11-year old African child wrote, “I dream about the future, about many things to be; how the future will go and how we are the future”. This young African child was aware of the importance of the now in preparing for the future. A bright future for the society depends on the total health-mental and emotional health included-of our children today.

Welcome to the C-CAMH website!

Olayinka Omigbodun

Director, Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CCAMH)