Welcome to the Friendship Bench Blog.
We’re here to speak up about mental health and our basic human needs of belonging, community and connection
If you are in search of a community with understanding, for a sense of belonging, for hope, for help and for a path to self discovery then you are in the right place.
About the Friendship Bench
The mission of the Friendship Bench is to create safe spaces and a sense of belonging in communities, to enhance mental wellbeing and improve peoples quality of life. Guided by our values of empathy and connection, and anchored in over a decade of rigorous research (including a RCT published in the Journal of American Medical Association, JAMA) we have re-imagined the delivery of evidence-based mental healthcare.
The Friendship Bench clinical team trains community health workers (also known as lay health workers) to provide basic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with an emphasis on Problem Solving Therapy, activity scheduling and peer led group support. This task shifting approach means we can deliver an effective, affordable and sustainable solution to bridge the mental health treatment gap at a primary care level.
We deliver the talk therapy intervention to people with mild to moderate level common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, known locally as ‘kufungisisa’- thinking too much. When people visit the Friendship Bench they are screened with a locally validated tool called the Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ-14). If a person scores above the cut off point, they are suggested to stay and receive the one-on-one problem solving therapy. In practical terms, participants are taught a structured approach to identifying problems and find workable solutions.
We are not conventional, our therapy rooms are outdoors under trees and our therapists are elderly Zimbabwean women.