2019 through a lens...

GACD, OptFB Stakeholder Meeting


17-19 OCTOBER 2019

Stakeholders meeting before going forward with the Qualitative component of the Optimise Friendship Bench project, working with The Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases.


Thank you everyone for a great workshop! Dr. Verhey, Dr. Chibanda, Dr. Healey, Dr. Wagenaar, Dr Araya, Grandmothers, Grandfather, FB team, Nurses, Clients, Ministry reps & lunch time Chefs! Onwards into the qualitative phase!


Facilitating training at Bindura University; to get accessible and affordable mental health care on campus



There’s so much to be enjoyed at uni, but for some people, it can be a time of loneliness, exam anxiety, of being weighed down by worries about relationships & finances.


We are so excited that approval has come through from Bindura University of Science Education and the Social Work faculty is on board and eager to get mental health care onto their campus. 

We did weekend trainings with the BUSE students and could not have asked for a better group of enthusiastic students.

This is our trial University, we are looking to 2020 to go into more.

CeSHHAR Theory of Change Workshop


SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

The Centre for Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Research Zimbabwe (CeSHHAR) houses a number of HIV prevention and sexual health research and programmatic projects. 

Over the years we have met CeSHHAR employees who then contacted us to see about setting up a Friendship Bench that has a key focus on sex workers in Zimbabwe. 

We had an amazing Theory of Change Workshop where all key stakeholders were present, including a group of sex workers and the Grandmothers. 

"We would never want to take away the option of sex work but we want to create spaces for mental health support .We want people to practice safely & have a place to go to share their feelings where there is deep understanding and no judgement. #TheoryOfChange"


Friendship Bench Open House training in PST


SEPTEMBER 9-13, 2019

Many organisations are requesting the Friendship Bench, we have started with trainings for those organisations we are already working close with on projects or who we have been in contact with in other areas of research activities over the past few years. This was a great training to see how people who do not necessarily work in a mental health care or even social work industry take to the approach. We see more and more that diversity brings wisdom, fresh perspectives and helps open peoples minds to the importance of respecting individuality.

Inhouse Qualitative Training


SEPTEMBER 10, 2019



Friendship Bench held an inhouse training on Qualitative Research, facilitated by Dr Webster Mavhu a qualitative specialist. The training was to introduce the OptFB, FBPlus and YouFB project teams to the concept of qualitative research as they prepare for the qualitative components of their studies. MUCH WAS LEARNT.

ICOPE DEP meeting


MAY 15-17, 2019



Friendship Bench hosted the project development meeting for ICOPE-DEP (Integrated Care for Older People),

addressing low mood and other unmet health needs of older adults in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.


Delegates from various institutions and from across the globe met at the Friendship Bench house to discuss collaboration on the ICOPE-DEP project.

Evangelische Frauenhilfe Church from Westfalen Germany. 

MAY 7, 2019


25 women from the Evangelische Frauenhilfe church in Westfalen Germany emailed us earlier in the year, they were going to be on a world prayer tour and wanted meet some Friendship Bench beneficiaries while they were in Harare. 


We organised for 9 Friendship Bench clients to come and share their experience of mental health recovery, the tools and skills they leart and how they maintain their mental wellness by participating in Circle Kubatana Tose groups. It was an afternoon of women seeing women. There were variations in culture, language, race, religion, mental health and age but shared care, compassion and much laughter. Beneficiaries were also able to sell their crocheted bags and amaze the visitors that VHS tapes were now being used as crochet ribbon.

GACD, Optimise FB on a field trip to Gweru for qualitative data collection.

APRIL, 2019


So much energy in Gweru even with the cold! These women are standing strong in their community, there is no alternative help for people with mental health problems so they take their work and referral system very seriously. Most Grnadmothers still carrying and using their ZEEbags from the training! 

Best surprise was meeting a Friendship Bench Grandfather who works as a Bench mobiliser. 

We look forward to seeing them again for the qualitative phase. 

Training for new Youth Bench Buddies and the public! 

APRIL 15-19, 2019


The Friendship Bench mission is to provide a sustainable community based mental health intervention that is evidence based, accessible and scalable. In pushing for scalability we have been hosting and facilitating public trainings in the Friendship Bench Approach to problem solving therapy for anyone above the age of 18 who wishes to apply for the 5-10 days of training. We have had amazing response from the public and continue to get messages requesting more trainings. Our first training was held for the public and new Youth Friendship Bench Buddies.

Friendship Bench ZW. Photography Exhibition in Germany. 

JULY 7, 2019


The Friendship Bench held a photo exhibition to mark the launch of the Friendship Bench Trust in Germany!


Photos and canvases we're provided by Photographer, Rainer Kwiotek, which were shot on his visit to Zimbabwe in 2018.


Rainer together with the Zeitenspiegel journalist Isabel Stettin published a multiple page feature on the Friendship Bench, it was beautiful!


Check it out... 




Garden Update, just before winter!



The garden is flourishing! We have minor anxiety about the water situation and the winter cold coming so thought now was the time for a quick update. 

In the beds currently are lettuce, spinach, eggplant, onions, cabbage,  beetroot, covo, tsunga and a mass of herbs. 

Peter the grounds man has been to Foundations for Farming on a course and hopefully we will get a compost pile going soon.

YouFB 'buddies';

the future of mental health care.


MARCH 2019


PEer counsellors


Students on attachment

The Friendship Bench, after it's success has embarked on the Youth Friendship Bench (YouFB) study.

  • One in six people are aged 10–19 years.

  • Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years.

  • Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.

Need we say more. 

Twitter: Youth Friendship Bench

Facebook: Youth Friendship Bench

Instagram: Youth Friendship Bench

Clinic check - ins, always good connecting with the Grandmothers & clinic supervisors. 

MARCH 2019


These women! 



Part of our new year objectives is to do more check in's as a team with the Lay Health Workers. 

There is an abundance of knowledge and wisdom in these grandmothers, it's an honour to sit and talk to them. It's an awakening to the reality of life, yet when we talk and they share their community struggles they also naturally share hope, solutions and encouragement. 

KUVHURA PFUGWA- Truly "opening the mind!"

FB House development

February 2019


We have a base!!!


Permanently in a stage of growth!

Would you believe Friendship Bench has never had any base, headquarters, office space?


We have worked from coffee shops, homes, cars, psychiatrists and psychologist offices or out at the clinics and Harare Hospital. BUT, now we have a base! A place to call home, somewhere to host workshops, trainings, counselling sessions and so much more. 

Follow our social media platforms to see more and keep up with our growth and developments.

World Economic Forum

DAVOS 2019


“Everyone everywhere, should have someone to turn to,"


January 22-25 • 2019

World Economic Forum WRITE UP

This is a story of hope >

United For Global Mental Health

Signs of hope >

London School of Hygiene and

Tropical Medicine WRITE UP

Time to act >


All photo credits to UnitedGMH

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4 Weale Road

Milton Park

Harare, Zimbabwe

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