Children and Adolescents to Receive Additional Tailored Mental Health Services in Liberia

Contact: In Atlanta, Rennie Sloan,
In Monrovia, Liberia: Janice Cooper,

ATLANTA…The Carter Center has partnered with the UBS Optimus Foundation to improve the well-being of vulnerable youth in Liberia by tailoring and strengthening the national mental health care system to address the unique needs of children and adolescents.

The two-year collaboration aims to train 130 health and education professionals with skills to identify and treat the mental health needs of youth. In addition, three school-based clinics will be established and equipped with trained staff. As a result of this initiative, an estimated 1,750 vulnerable children and adolescents in Liberia will have access to mental health and psychosocial support services to improve well-being.

Prior to the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease outbreak, Liberia’s population faced a 14-year civil conflict. Although the conflict ended in 2003, a climate of violence has persisted. Following the Ebola outbreak, more than 3,600 Liberian children were orphaned and thousands more were confined in isolation units or left at home to watch loved ones suffer. The disease outbreak and social unrest have contributed to a mental health crisis in Liberia.

“We know that children and adolescents require tailored psychosocial support needs and we are grateful that this partnership enables The Carter Center to expand its investment in the well-being of the young people who represent the future of Liberia,” said Ambassador (ret.) Mary Ann Peters, chief executive officer of The Carter Center.

The program bolsters current Carter Center programs with the Liberia Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to train the health, social welfare, and education workforce to support the mental health needs of children and adolescents. In total, the Center has trained 187 clinicians to address mental health needs in Liberia. The most recent cohort of 21 clinicians was trained specifically in child and adolescent mental health as part of a three-year partnership supported by the Japan Social Development Fund and administered by the World Bank.

"Many young people are being left behind because they don't have access to the basic healthcare we take for granted. That's why we're really excited about our partnership with The Carter Center, which will benefit thousands of the most vulnerable and neglected and help lay the foundations for a better, brighter future for Liberia," said Phyllis Costanza, CEO, UBS Optimus Foundation.

Since 2010, mental health clinicians trained by the Carter Center program have made a lasting impact in their communities by establishing new services at the ground level. Clinicians have opened 14 clinical practices in prison systems, trained nurse midwives to screen for maternal depression, treated refugees from the Ivory Coast conflict, supported the nation's first mental health consumer organization, worked in Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), and provided psychosocial supports to individuals and families affected by the Ebola virus. This new cohort of child and adolescent mental health clinicians will assist in these efforts by providing specialized care to Liberian youth.

The Carter Center's Mental Health Program in Liberia continues to strengthen the capacity of the Liberian institutions assuming responsibility for ongoing mental health training, policy, and anti-stigma efforts. These programs are supported by contributions from individuals, foundations, governments, and corporations.

The UBS Optimus Foundation

An expert grantmaking foundation for UBS clients looking to use their wealth to drive positive and sustainable social change for children. The Foundation helps clients achieve their philanthropic gaols by connecting them with inspiring entrepreneurs, new technologies, and proven models that bridge a gap preventing children from thriving. It guarantees that 100% of donations go to programs benefitting children because UBS cover all its administrative costs. In 2015, the Foundation helped improve the well-being of 1.5 million children globally through its work in the areas of child health, education, protection, Early Childhood Development, and Emergency Response.

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"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.