In support of Mental Health Day 2021 which is commemorated globally annually on the 10th of October, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation (JMKF) held a Mental Health Breakfast Information Session on Friday the 29th of October 2021. The objectives of the session were to gain stakeholders’ inputs on Mental Health for Children and Adolescents in Tanzania, to understand the landscape and gaps, as well as to identify possible areas for collaboration among various stakeholders to add value in the sector. The breakfast session was themed “Mental Health for Children and Adolescents” and brought a wide array of actors in the mental health ecosystem including Tanzania Psychologists Association, Lukiza Autism Foundation, Safe Space Africa , Mental Health Tanzania( MEHATA) , Guided Path ,The Agha Khan Council Tanzania , Child Support Tanzania , MRC Sober House ,Dar es Salaam Rotaract , Muhimbili Hospital , Tanzania Women of Wisdom for Youth , The Citizen and Nipashe.
The Mental health Information session presentations and discussions helped to identify gaps and brought several issues on surface including: i) Lack of adequate and affordable services for Children and Adolescents’ Mental Wellbeing;ii) Unmet needs of prevention and early intervention in children and adolescents’ mental health; iii) Causes and risk factors of illness in Children and Adolescents; iv) Relationship between physical disability, mental health, and wellbeing of families; v)The importance of emotional labor among mental health service providers and caregivers; vi) The lack of enough context-based research and interdisciplinary partnership in the mental health sector of Tanzania; vii) The role of perceived social norms and help seeking practices in relation to mental health; viii) as well as Mental health ecosystem in Tanzania.
Some key recommendations on areas of advocacy raised include; i) to ensure insurance coverage for mental health services; ii)importance of inclusivity in planning and implementation of all stakeholders; iii) role and importance of education and awareness building on mental health issues to the society and caregivers of children and adolescents, iv) need of advocating for equipped and functional recreation spaces for children in schools and designated open spaces for sports; v) decriminalization of mental health issues/challenges/outcomes; vi) promoting knowledge sharing, foster collaborations to work together in ensuring mental health is addressed as a multi-sectoral issue. Now it’s time to see what can be done to collaborate and add value in the Adolescent and youth Mental health space