Catalyze – Mental Health: Evidence on catalysts of change for youth mental health in Africa

Project Period

February 2023 - February 2024

Project Partners

  • Sustainable Health Systems (SHS) Sierra Leone
  • Réseau des Organisations pour la Promotion de la Santé Mentale au Sénégal (REPOSAM)

The Catalyze – Mental Health project will advance a comprehensive evidence-scoping strategy to better understand the mental health and wellbeing drivers and needs of young people in Senegal and Sierra Leone. The project aims to create supportive communities, and foster system-level changes by collating evidence on youth mental health in each country. Context-specific well-being drivers of mental health, perceptions of mental health, predominant mental health and substance use issues, related programs and interventions, policies, key stakeholders, and networks will be identified.

The initiative aims to fill the gaps in available evidence related to youth mental health. It will engage key stakeholders and other interested parties to identify priority research and intervention needs. Additionally, it will identify pathways to scale innovative solutions, build consensus around a comprehensive national youth mental health agenda, and ensure access to high-quality mental health services. To achieve this, the initiative includes a series of needs assessments and capacity strengthening sessions, evidence gap mapping, stakeholder workshops, and youth-led discussions.

The project will promote the use of evidence with tailored learning on youth mental health issues to improve programs and policies by equipping researchers, practitioners, funders, and policymakers across several levels and sectors in the two countries.

The study will leverage the Center’s innovation for stakeholders’ engagement such as the ‘Mbeteza ®’ board game to explore and understand the diverse issues and challenges at stake regarding youth mental health across the continent, but specifically in Senegal and Sierra Leone. The unique board game is built to enable the players, especially the policy actors, speak about, make timely decisions, and design and implement practical solutions for youth mental health.