In October 2010, Dean Gail Stuart, PhD, RN, FAAN, traveled to Liberia, Africa with a group from the Carter Center. Their mission was to work with the Liberians to refine a curriculum she developed to train 150 nurses to provide mental health care to those in the country recovering from the trauma of civil war. This mission focused on creating a ‘train the trainer’ model, educating groups of nurses and physician assistants who would then become the trainers for other cohorts—two each year.
In March 2012, Dean Stuart returned to Liberia with her Carter Center colleagues to evaluate and update the mental health training curriculum. To date two classes of students (38 in total) have graduated from the program and it has been deemed a great success. While there, Dean Stuart addressed the second group of graduates and also visited some of the more rural parts of the country to further assess their mental health needs.
The first annual Program Review of the Mental Health Liberia Program was held on April 18, 2012, at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Dean Stuart attended the event and shared her methodologies and research on components of the program that she created in addition to her preliminary findings of data she collected during her visit in March. Senior executive staff of the Carter Center, other consultants to the program, technical staff, and donors attended the review.
About the Carter Center
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production.
Mental Health in Liberia
Building upon nearly two decades of Carter Center efforts to foster peace and democracy in Liberia, the Carter Center Mental Health Program in 2010 launched a five-year initiative to help create a sustainable mental health system in Liberia that will address a broad range of mental health conditions. The over arching goal is to improve functioning in people with mental illnesses in the most populous counties of Liberia. The initiative will assist the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare by: building local training for professionals in mental health, such as nurses; collaborating on implementation of the national mental health plan; developing support models for family caregivers; promoting advocacy; and working to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses.