Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Maybe your town needs a Friendship Bench?

Getting mental health care in the United States can be hard, but it's almost impossible in Zimbabwe, where 15 million people have only 10 psychiatrists. The Friendship Bench project is a different way to tackle the problem. These benches are placed outside some of Zimbabwe's many health clinics. If you sit down, a Golden Lady (a grandmother) will sit with you and listen. They might help you identify problems or give advice to help you feel more positive.

The Golden Ladies are health care workers trained in problem-solving therapy. So far, over 27,000 people have used a Friendship Bench. How does bench therapy compare with nurse assessment or optional medications? According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, bench visitors were three times less likely to suffer depression six months later. Outcomes were even better for patients with anxiety or suicidal thoughts.

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