Zanzibar Training of



ZANZIBAR has 1 clinical psychologist serving a population of 1.3 million.


​September 2018

Dr Chibanda and Dr Verhey went to Zanzibar to train the Friendship Bench Model to psychiatric nurses and it was brilliant to have the Ministry involed and come and visit the training. Again the key was for cultural adaptation.

Zanzibar has one clinical psychologist for a population of 1.3 million people. Mental Health services are centralized at the psychiatric hospital (Kidongo Chekundu) in Stone Town with infrequent and overcrowded outreach clinics to surrounding villages. We hope through our training, services can become more accessible, affordable, appropriate and equitable. Visit HIPZ to read more about mental health care in Zanzibar. So grateful for collaborations with willing open minded game changers.

Training in Lilongwe, Malawi.


March 2018


In collaboration with Dr. Brian Pence Wells and Prof. Bradley Gaynes from the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, the Friendship Bench was established in two clinics in Lilongwe in their effort to integrate mental health care into the HIV care. Funded by USAID in their SOAR depression treatment project, health surveillance assistants (HSAs) and some mental health professionals were trained to deliver the FB intervention. HSAs are the equivalent of the Zimbabwean lay health workers (LHWs), they are employed by the Malawian Ministry of Health and do clinic- and community-based work such as basic health outreach and health education across various disease conditions. For many of the trainees it was the first training in mental health.

Since the training that took place in October 2017, we had one refresher session in March 2018 and Friendship Bench services are offered in two clinics (area 18 and 25) in Lilongwe. The FB trainers keep in contact with the Malawian team and we are excited to be told that FB is implemented and received well by clinic visitors.

World Mental Health

Day 2018!


World Mental Health Day)2018 theme was "young people and mental health

in a changing world"


10th October 2018

This years World Mental Health Day was a big event and the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit was over the 9th and 10th of October aswell. There was a great emphasis put on the youth and we followed the hash tag #TheWorldNeeds. Not to mention they built a Friendship Bench, the original design, in London for the Summit.

If you missed it on social media here are some Youth Friendship Bench Student Attachees' who got involved.

Gatherings! Equality!



There should be gatherings! no divides, it doesn't matter who you are common mental disorders can affect anyone, so in that way we are leveled, whether a client, researcher, donor, doctor, we are the same.


October 2018

Beneficiaries of the Friendship Bench

at Highfield Clinic together with the grandmothers & visiting research team.

It is so important for us to go into the field and visit the grandmothers and show our appreciation for their hard work.

It was great seeing the ZEEbag creativity and the positive feedback of the peer support groups.

Welcome to the

student attachee's!



August 2018

As we continue to grow as the Friendship Bench we head into our research and establishment of the Youth Friendship Bench - YouFB. After having trained trainers it was time to take on student attachee's. All students sent in a CV and motivational letter through their universities, all are in 2nd year and have to do a placement for 10 months.

We now have 24 students who have been through the problem solving therapy model, been introduced to the grandmothers and spent a day with them on the Bench, and are helping in research collection and data gathering. It's so important to work with minds who can identify with the youth and who they youth we hope will be more readily mobilised by. There is a lot of growth and adaptation happening and we are excited for our piloting.

The future minds sit in our present hands.

Training of Trainers.





May-June 2018

Ongoing Friendship Bench training delivered by Professor Dixon Chibanda and Clinical Psychologist Ruth Verhey . This five day training of trainers was attended by health workers from Masvingo and Zaka, for scaling up a rural Friendship Bench intervention as well as Harare Central Hospital interns who will train youth lay health councellors on the YouFB- youth Friendship Bench to focus on adolescents who suffer from common mental disorders.

Held at the Research Support Center at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (www.uzchsrsc.ac.zw/).

This was a closed invitation event.

Friendship Benches in New York City!



A south-north knowledge and experience transfer


January 2018

Realizing the heavy burden of mental illness, the NYC department of health and mental hygiene has been seeking evidence-based approaches to bridge the treatment gap supported by mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McGray.

As part of the Mental Health Road Map for all: ThriveNYC, Friendship Benches were introduced upon suggestion of Dr Mary Bassett, the NYC Commissioner of Health. Under Dr Gary Belkin, the Executive Deputy Commissioner, Division of Mental Hygiene, the Director of Networks and Coalitions Takeesha White has been leading the...

Read about the

rest of our trip >>>

Hello Masvingo





January 2018

Masvingo stakeholders taking action steps towards mental health improvement.

Have a look at a few galleries from over the many years of the Friendship Bench.

​Find us: 

4 Weale Road

Milton Park

Harare, Zimbabwe

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