AFFIRM: AFrica Focus on Intervention Research for Mental health

There is growing international consensus that a task sharing approach is required in LMICs in which low-cost interventions are delivered by general health workers, supervised by mental health specialists, through routine health care delivery systems. At the same time, mental health research capacity and infrastructure in Africa are extremely limited, with little dedicated funding, a scarcity of trained mental health research personnel, a dearth of infrastructural support, and few opportunities for training and supervision in mental health research.

AFFIRM was a hub for research and capacity development to improve the delivery of cost-effective interventions for mental disorders in sub-Saharan Africa. Through collaborations in five African countries AFFIRM investigated strategies for narrowing the mental health treatment gap in sub-Saharan Africa; built individual and institutional capacity for intervention research in sub-Saharan Africa; established a network of collaboration between researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government agencies that facilitated the translation of research knowledge into policy and practice; and, collaborated with other regional NIMH hubs.

AFFIRM brought together a range of multi-disciplinary researchers, policy makers and NGO practitioners, and built on previous partnerships, with a focus on empirically testing innovative models of task shifting in low resource primary health care settings.


AFFIRM generated new evidence on the cost-effectiveness of task sharing interventions for maternal depression in South Africa and severe mental illness in Ethiopia; provided 25 Masters Fellowships and supported five PhDs; and developed research and policy networks that have been sustained beyond the life of the programme.


National Institute of Mental Health

Project Team

Prof Crick Lund (Principal Investigator) - University of Cape Town and King’s College London

Dr Charlotte Hanlon

Prof Martin Prince

Prof Sir Graham Thornicroft

Prof Melanie Abas

Dr Rosie Mayston

Prof Atalay Alem - Addis Ababa University

Dr Charlotte Hanlon Addis Ababa University & King’s College London

Prof Martin Prince - King’s College London

Prof Sir Graham Thornicroft - King’s College London

Dr Rob Stewart - University of Malawi

Dr Judy Bass - Johns Hopkins

Dr Paul Bolton - Johns Hopkins

Prof Inge Petersen - University of KwaZulu-Natal

Prof Arvin Bhana -  University of KwaZulu-Natal

Dr Dixon Chibanda - University of Zimbabwe

Mr Sifiso Phakathi - Department of Health of the Government of South Africa,

Prof Ashraf Kagee - Stellenbosch University

Prof Mark Tomlinson - Stellenbosch University

Prof Seggane Musisi - Makerere University

Mr Peter Yaro -  BasicNeeds

Dr Angela Ofori-Atta - University of Ghana

Prof Ezra Susser - Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute.