Lesley Hill, an art therapist and mental health practitioner linked to UK-based NHS Scotland’s Highland /Ghana Health Partnership and Multi Agency International Training and Support (MAITS) visited the Grow Your Dream Foundation in October 2021 to see how best GYDF might add a mental health focus to their community work.
GYDF Director Jacob Ahiave Sedemor facilitated the trip along with GYDF colleague Linus Gaba. They orientated Ms Hill to the GYDF gender and health work and community contexts. They facilitated a visit to Kordiable, an ‘off the beaten track’ community up the mountain in the Adaklu District. This visit served as an initial introduction of the concept of mental health within GYDF work for the community and an opportunity for Ms Hill to deliver a taster art session to show how using art can enable communication and discussion within the community groups. The 45 min walk along a rocky path and under the shade of the trees led to into the community itself, nestling below a steep rockface. The chiefs and community provided their customary welcome with singing and drumming, speeches and gifts. The topic of mental health was briefly introduced by Jacob Ahiava and Linus Gaba followed by the art exercise. This enabled discussions about good and bad experiences in couple relationships, a roof blowing off – then being repaired, a sick child who got better, having no money then making money and being able to buy food. Thus using art in this way proved to be a useful tool to explore difficulties in life and help to talk about them.
A visit to the Hasu Polyclinic to meet community care and mental health personnel, share GYDF intention to develop mental health within their remit, and flag up the availability of community health for disabilities training available through MAITS, rounded off the visit.
Following the visit, Ms Hill linked the GYDF team to Mr Dan Taylor, Director of Mindfreedom Ghana, based in Accra. Jacob Ahiave was quick to take up the opportunity of joining a Mindfreedom training event in Jasikan in the north of Volta region which focused on the impacts of Covid 19 on mental health.