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Connecting People in Sierra Leone Study


It is estimated that around four out of five people experiencing mental distress in low and middle-income countries such as Sierra Leone do not receive any formal support. By providing mental health workers with training to enhance knowledge and skills of mobilising existing social networks during a complex emergency, this project uniquely addresses the challenges of resource-limited care in Sierra Leone amid the 2014 Ebola outbreak. The project aims to promote resiliency and recovery from mental distress using strategies to foster social participation through interpersonal and communal trust. A key aspect has been engagement with local stakeholders throughout the design and implementation, enhancing the long-term sustainability of its outcomes.


2013 – 2016

Research Team

Meredith Newlin (SCWRU); Martin Webber, University of York; Susannah Whitwell and Oliver Johnson, King’s College London; Heather Weaver, Enabling Access to Mental Health; Carmen Valle, University of Makeni.


Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) at the University of York supported by Wellcome Trust; Maudsley Charity


The study has four components: a systematic review of the translation of social interventions across economic boundaries; feasibility study using ethnographic methodology to assess the acceptability of adapting the Connecting People Intervention (CPI) model in Sierra Leone; model adaptation and development of a training programme for 21 community-based mental health nurses in district hospitals across the country; evaluation of the training at three and six months follow-up.


Responding to the current Ebola outbreak, an adapted version of the Connecting People Intervention Model has been developed and iterations place the model and training programme as a psychosocial emergency response initiative in Sierra Leone.

Outputs and impact

A systematic review has been published, and a series of peer-reviewed papers report feasibility study findings, model adaptation and intervention translation, and comprehensive training materials. The aim is to adapt evidence-based models of practice and training materials to meet the needs of other countries facing a treatment gap and emergency situations.

Newlin, M. & Webber, M. (2015, online) 'Effectiveness of knowledge translation of social interventions across economic boundaries: a systematic review', European Journal of Social Work.

Newlin, M. (2014) 'Social and community interventions which enhance mental wellbeing in Sierra Leone', Social Policy and Social Work PhD Seminar, University of York, 5 November.

Newlin, M. (2014) 'Community mental health research: Connecting People in Sierra Leone', Sierra Leone World Mental Health Day, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS Trust, London, 10 October.

Newlin, M. (2014) 'Social intervention development and evaluation in Sierra Leone: a feasibility study', European Conference for Social Work Research, University of Bolzano, 16 April.





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