Connecting People in Sierra Leone

Connecting People is an evidence-informed approach to supporting people to connect with others


It is estimated that around four out of five people experiencing mental health problems in low and middle-income countries do not receive any formal support. In Sierra Leone the mental health treatment gap is estimated at over 95%. The limited capacity of mental health services in Sierra Leone has been compounded by the effect of the Ebola outbreak; the nature of the virus caused communities to mistrust health services and broke down social supports.

This study aimed to promote resiliency and recovery from mental distress using core strategies that foster social participation through interpersonal and communal trust. By providing mental health workers with training to enhance knowledge and skills of mobilising existing social networks, this project uniquely addressed the challenges of resource-limited care in Sierra Leone.



Research team

The study was undertaken by Meredith Fendt-Newlin and supervised by Professor Martin Webber (University of York).

Partners in this study included the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, King’s College London and Enabling Access to Mental Health Sierra Leone.

Funding was provided for this study in part by the International Centre for Mental Health Social Research, University of York; Wellcome Trust through the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders at the University of York; the Maudsley Charity; the American Association for University Women and the Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of York.


Fendt-Newlin, M. & Webber, M. (2015). Effectiveness of knowledge translation of social interventions across economic boundaries: a systematic review. European Journal of Social Work, 18(4), 543-568.

Fendt-Newlin, M. & Webber, M. (2015). One size does not fit all, but we can offer a framework for alterations: tailoring mental health social interventions for diverse contexts. Forum, 39, 20-21.

Fendt-Newlin, M. (2015) ‘As Sierra Leone waits for Ebola all-clear, its emotional scars will take longer to heal’, The Conversation: 26 August