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Canadian organization launches 5-year, multi-million dollar mental health project in Guyana

CEO, Mahmood Qasim Program Manager, Julie Sookram, Senior International Assistance Officer, Tariq William, Head of Cooperation for Guyana, Jessica Teasdale, Board Chair, Yasmeena Mohamed, High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana and Suriname, Mark Berman Dr. Tayyab Rashid

Canada’s first mental health project in the Caribbean region launched in Guyana

TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, Nov. 17, 2022 / — The United Nations has identified mental health as one of the biggest challenges to income equality and prosperity around the world. This situation is particularly acute among young people living in vulnerable communities in developing countries, notably in Guyana.

In recognition of this challenge, the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF), with financial support from Global Affairs Canada, has launched a multi-million dollar mental health project in Guyana in cooperation with local organizations and the supporting a broader mental health strategy. The project uses a community-based care approach to mental health and well-being that builds on existing social structures and the strengths of community health workers, mental health survivors, multi-faith leaders and community leaders. other key influential leaders, and the ability of communities to work together to chart a new course for mental health resilience.

The Guyana Mental Health and Wellbeing (GWB) Conference included a launch of the project on Tuesday afternoon at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal. Canadian Minister for International Development Harjit Sajjan made the announcement via video message.

Key stakeholders and partners will include ministries of health; Education; Native American Affairs; Personal services and social security; the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana; Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA) and Women Across Differences (WAD).
“IDRF has been leading development and humanitarian relief efforts throughout Guyana in cooperation with local partners since 2005, including in response to severe flooding in the summer of 2021,” said Nabil Ali, program director for the IDRF. ‘IDRF. “To date, we have helped over 20,000 Guyanese, and with the launch of our IDRF-Guyana mental health project and the support of local partners, we plan to significantly increase our local impact.

The IDRF-Guyana Mental Health Project is expected to benefit 67,750 school and community-based adults and youth in vulnerable communities in Guyana over a five-year period, including:

• 9,000 young people in schools with gender-sensitive education for equitable inclusion and well-being;
• 5,750 adults benefiting from community mental health care and support;
• 52,500 adults benefiting from mental health services in 400 public health establishments;
• 500 dialysis patients with mental health counselling.
Some of the main project activities in various regions of Guyana will include:
• Training of young peer leaders to promote gender equality and inclusion;
• Reintegration of teenage mothers and other early dropouts into the school system;
• Reintegration of mental health survivors into their communities
• Training of community health workers (CHWs) in rights-based mental health services, substance abuse and suicide attempt first aid;
• Training of facility health workers on mental health management priorities; and,
It is anticipated that these and other activities will build on existing programs and initiatives to build mental health resilience among young people, their families, and vulnerable women and men in all parts of Guyana.

About IDRF:
IDRF is a registered Canadian charity that has been empowering disadvantaged people in Canada and around the world since 1984. We have been recognized by third-party organizations as one of Canada’s best-run charities for our effectiveness, efficiency and our results. Find out more about IDRF’s work in their annual report and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

For more information, photos and interviews, please contact:

Zeina Osman, Director, Donations and Impact
Tel: 416-497-0818 (#504)
[email protected]

Zeina Osman
International Development and Relief Foundation
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