Toward an integrated approach for mental health and psychosocial support and peacebuilding in North-East Nigeria: programme description and preliminary outcomes from ‘Counselling on Wheels’

Sharli Paphitis, Fatima Akilu, Natasha Chilambo*, Abiye Iruayenama, Xena Samaroo, Asma'u Mustapha, Kimberley Goldsmith, Olawale Ismail, Petr Slovak, Eka Ikpe, Patrick Smith, Preeti Patel, Richard Sullivan, Melanie Amna Abas, Funmi Olonisakin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Despite theoretical support for including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) with peacebuilding, few programmes in conflict-affected regions fully integrate these approaches. Aims To describe and assess preliminary outcomes of the Counselling on Wheels programme delivered by the NEEM Foundation in the Borno State of North-East Nigeria. Method We first describe the components of the Counselling on Wheels programme, including education and advocacy for peace and social cohesion through community peacebuilding partnerships and activities, and an MHPSS intervention open to all adults, delivered in groups of eight to ten people. We then conducted secondary analysis of data from 1550 adults who took part in the MHPSS intervention, who provided data at baseline and 1-2 weeks after the final group session. Vulnerability to violent extremism was assessed with a locally developed 80-item scale. Symptoms of common mental disorders were assessed with the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Scale (PTSD-8). Data were analysed through a mixed-effect linear regression model, accounting for clustering by community and adjusted for age and gender. Results After taking part in group MHPSS, scores fell for depression (-5.8, 95% CI -6.7 to -5.0), stress (-5.5, 95% CI -6.3 to -4.6), post-traumatic stress disorder (-2.9, 95% CI -3.4 to -2.4) and vulnerability to violent extremism (-44.6, 95% CI -50.6 to -38.6). Conclusions The Counselling on Wheels programme shows promise as a model for integrating MHPSS with community peacebuilding activities in this conflict-affected region of Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere190
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2023

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