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The Carter Center Congratulates Liberia on Graduation of Inaugural Class of Mental Health Clinicians

Contact: Paige Rohe, The Carter Center
In Monrovia: +088 045 8998

MONROVIA...Today, during a ceremony attended by Liberian government officials, community and religious leaders, and other partners, The Carter Center celebrated the graduation of Liberia's first class of locally trained mental health clinicians. Through the leadership of the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and with support from The Carter Center, these 21 nurses and physician assistants from seven counties throughout Liberia are the first graduates of an innovative training program to address the desperate need for mental health care services in the post-conflict nation.

"The Carter Center has worked in Liberia for nearly two decades, and I have seen firsthand the great need for healing after Liberia's brutal civil war," said former First Lady of the United States and Carter Center Co-founder Rosalynn Carter. "By making mental health a priority, Liberia has become a model for health care in developing nations. With continued hard work and commitment to mental health, Liberia will reap the untold benefits of having many more citizens better able to contribute to their communities."

The psychological impact of over a decade of civil conflict, which ended in 2003, has contributed to a mental health crisis in Liberia, intensified by: misconceptions, stigma, and resulting discrimination surrounding mental illnesses; lack of mental health care training; and inadequate supplies of necessary medications. Less than 1 percent of the Liberian population has access to appropriate mental health care, although the need for these services is much greater.

"People have few places to go to receive basic health services," said Dr. Janice Cooper, a native Liberian and project lead for the Carter Center's Mental Health Program in Liberia. "We know that these highly competent clinicians have a challenging road ahead of them, but they are well prepared and eager to create further positive change in their home communities."

Clinicians trained through the program will receive new credentials—just approved by the Liberian government—that will allow them to return to their former positions in primary care clinics throughout Liberia to help integrate mental health services into the primary care system. Some of the graduates are educators and will return to the classrooms to ensure the next generation of primary care workers will be better prepared to address mental health problems.

During the next four years, The Carter Center and its partners will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to train a total mental health workforce of 150 professionals. The program also will support the development of 300 other health workers who previously had received some minimal mental health training from nongovernmental organizations working in the country immediately after the war. This new workforce will help dramatically expand mental health care access to 70 percent of the country.

Coursework and educational materials are provided to participants at no cost and were developed by the Carter Center's Mental Health Program in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and key local stakeholders in the primary care and mental health communities (such as Liberian health instructors, nurses, and physicians) to ensure local cultural relevancy to Liberian needs and circumstances. The training model is based on the Carter Center-supported Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, a 13-year partnership between The Carter Center, Ethiopia's ministries of health and education, and seven Ethiopian Universities, which trained more than 26,000 health professionals to serve rural Ethiopian communities.

In addition to training a sustainable and credentialed workforce of mental health clinicians, objectives of the Carter Center's Mental Health Program Liberia include implementing the government's new National Mental Health Policy and improving public understanding of mental illnesses through anti-stigma campaigns and advocacy efforts.

Editor's Note:

Learn more about the Carter Center's mental health work in Liberia (PDF) >

Read a blog by Mental Health Program Liberia Project Lead, Dr. Janice Cooper about the first class of mental health clinicians >


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter 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 in developing nations to increase crop production. 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. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

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