Dixon Chibanda is one of 12 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe — for a population of more than 16 million. Realising that his country would never be able to scale traditional methods of treating those with mental health issues, Chibanda helped to develop a beautiful solution powered by a limitless resource: grandmothers. In this extraordinary, inspirational talk, learn more about the friendship bench program, which trains grandmothers in evidence-based talk therapy and brings care, and hope, to those in need.
Dixon Chibanda is the director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI). He’s based in Zimbabwe, where he works on the Friendship Bench program, a cognitive behavioral therapy–based approach to kufungisisa, the local term for depression, literally translated into “thinking too much.” At the Friendship Bench, patients receive individual problem-solving therapy from a specifically trained lay health worker.
Chibanda is passionate about connecting with ordinary people in ways that improve their lives using simple but effective programs that can be carried out by non-specialists or professionals. He likes to think outside the box as he explores ways of helping people with conditions such as depression, PTSD and ADHD.