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Mental Health in Côte d’Ivoire

Mental Health in Côte d’IvoireCôte d’Ivoire, located in West Africa with a population of roughly 22 million, is the largest economy in West Africa due to its exportation of cocoa and cashew nuts. However, one element of this amazing country that is often overlooked is the mental health facilities and help available to those who need it. 

Mental Health Statistics

As of 2007, the government has funded a program titled the National Program for Mental Health (also known as PNSM) which allows civilians to receive the help that they require and deserve. This could be due to the aftermath of the First Ivorian Civil War from 2002-2007, in which many people were left with unresolved mental and psychological issues. There is no exact number of people who are suffering from mental health issues in Côte d’Ivoire, but there are only three mental health facilities for 21 million people. 

However, due to recent developments, this statistic is about to change; many charities are introducing schemes and programs targeted at reducing the number of people who are suffering from mental health issues and are unable to get help. 

Bluemind Foundation

The Bluemind Foundation is a nonprofit charity set up in 2021 to help tackle women’s mental health battles throughout Africa. Their first mission for Côte d’Ivoire was to introduce the ‘Heal by Hair’ program

The program is designed to give hairdressers the skills and knowledge that they will need in order to recognize the warning signs of somebody who is battling with mental health and how to adapt their visit to make it the most beneficial. This scheme was introduced to over 200 hairdressers throughout Côte d’Ivoire in August 2022 and is aiming to be completed around March 2024. 

This project is a prime example of how a community can be a massive help when tackling both local and global issues, as opening the lines of communication between hairdressers and clients creates a friendly and secure environment for conversations to occur. There are also charities that use other vectors like religion to improve the number of people suffering, such as Brothers of Charity. 

Brothers of Charity

The Brothers of Charity was first opened in 1807 by Fr. Peter Joseph Triest with the aim of teaching young religious men to care for the elderly. However, their services were first introduced to Côte d’Ivoire in 1992 when the Congregation opened a house in Abidjan, allowing the brothers to receive both spiritual advice and professional training. This then led to the two-year-long development of a psychiatric hospital. 

Looking Up

Thanks to charities such as ‘Heal by Hair’ and ‘Brothers of Charity’ alongside the development of government-funded programs such as PSNM, more help is on the way to address mental health in Côte d’Ivoire. This means that the population of Côte d’Ivoire can now finally process the traumatic events that they have experienced so far this century and move toward a life of healing.

– Ella Bushell
Photo: Flickr