More Links in News & Events

New Graduates Bring Number of Trained Mental Health Clinicians in Liberia to 144

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

ATLANTA…The Carter Center's Mental Health Program in Liberia, in partnership with the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, congratulates the newest class of 21 clinicians who have joined the effort to continue improving access to mental health services in Liberia. With the addition of these graduates, 144 mental health clinicians are now trained, working largely in primary care clinics and hospitals across all 15 counties to provide much needed care.

Liberia is on course to reach its goal of expanding access to mental health care to 70 percent of the population within the next few years. Previously, this nation of 3.8 million had one psychiatrist to meet the needs of at least 300,000 Liberians suffering from mental illnesses.

The new graduates - made up of Liberian nurses, physician assistants, and nurse educators - completed the Carter Center's six-month, free, Post-Basic Mental Health Training Program in August 2014 in Monrovia, Montserrado County, at the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts. However, graduation was delayed in observance of Ebola Virus Disease health and safety precautions.

Graduates of the Carter Center program passed a certification exam in August to receive credentials from the Liberian Board of Nursing and Midwifery and the Liberia Physician Assistants Association which allowed them to return to their former mid-level positions in primary care clinics as mental health specialists. These graduates have been critical to Liberia's psycho-social response to Ebola.

Program alumni have made a lasting impact in their communities by establishing new services at the ground level. Clinicians have opened 10 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. Some alumni are also educators who will return to classrooms to ensure the next generation of primary care workers will be better prepared to address mental health problems.

"Liberia has made great progress in building a brighter future for its citizens by investing in mental health, an issue affecting many worldwide," said former First Lady of the United States and Carter Center Co-founder Rosalynn Carter.

While every Liberian county now has at least three mental health clinicians, there remains a need to build up services in places with immense treatment gaps. The largest concentration of Carter Center-trained clinicians, 43, serves a population of more than 1 million in Montserrado County, where the capital, Monrovia, is located. Outside Montserrado, the average number of mental health clinicians per county is six. Remote counties like Sinoe and Grand Gedeh each have 10 clinicians, River Gee has eight, and Maryland and Lofa each have nine clinicians.

"With every group of clinicians trained, there is a special excitement around how they will contribute to gaps in the still emerging mental health system. We are especially proud of their contributions to meet the mental health and psychosocial needs of the population during the last six months," said Dr. Janice Cooper, a native Liberian and project lead for the Carter Center's mental health initiative in Liberia.

The psychological impact of more than a decade of civil conflict, which ended in 2003, has contributed to a mental health crisis in Liberia that has been intensified by: misconceptions, stigma, and the resulting discrimination surrounding mental illnesses; lack of mental health care training for health professionals; and inadequate supplies of necessary medications. The Ebola crisis intensified these needs.

The Carter Center and its partners are working closely with the Ministry of Health to train at least 150 mental health clinicians. The Center also supports, in partnership with the ministry, efforts to standardize psychosocial credentialing for 300 other health workers who previously received some mental health training from nongovernmental organizations working in the country immediately after the war.

The Carter Center's Mental Health Program in Liberia is supported by contributions from individuals, foundations, governments, and corporations. The Center's partners include the John P. Hussmann Foundation, which aims to provide life-changing assistance through medical research, education, and direct aid to vulnerable individuals with urgent needs or significant disabilities. The Hussman Foundation's four-year commitment to the Mental Health Program in Liberia is critical to the program's success.

Editor's Note:
Learn more about the Carter Center's mental health work in Liberia.
Meet Margaret Ballah: On the Frontlines of Mental Health Care in Liberia.


"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.

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top