The HAPPINESS Project, which works to increase access to evidence-based treatments for mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in Nigeria, has been awarded a Hecht Award at Yale.

The award promotes new, collaborative research and projects from across the university. It is endowed in the Yale School of Public Health and matched by the Yale Institute for Global Health and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale.

The HAPPINESS Project provides training, ongoing clinical support, and refresher training for primary care teams in Nigeria. It is led by Theddeus Iheanacho, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry.

The program is concentrated in remote Imo State, one of 36 states in Nigeria, where it is virtually impossible to get a mental health care referral. There are no psychiatric hospitals across the 2,135-square-mile territory, and the state counts only one full-time psychiatrist to serve its nearly 5 million residents.

Iheanacho said the award will help his project bring mental health treatment to a larger area of Nigeria by strengthening the framework and expanding and scaling to other parts of Imo State.

“With the Hecht Award, we will enhance mobile telemedicine support and expand services to more parts of Imo State and obtain the data necessary to seek outside funding for scale up and implementation studies,” Iheanacho said. “We are truly excited, grateful and looking forward to making the most of this opportunity.”

If effective, the HAPPINESS Intervention would be poised to scale up across Nigeria and throughout sub-Saharan Africa through a network of collaborators and partners.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on June 15, 2020

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