The Butabika-East London Link is a Health Partnership which has been formally operating since 2004, with the aim to better mental health in the UK and Uganda through mutual learning and collaboration. In keeping with this aim, a variety of projects have been carried out over the past decade of collaboration, with a focus on:
•Training and development: Building the capabilities, capacity, skills and leadership of mental health workers and other health staff in Uganda
•Service user involvement: Increasing the involvement of users and carers in the development of mental health services in Uganda
•Creating dialogue: Building the skills and ideas of East London staff through relationships with Butabika Hospital and other Ugandan organisations and people
•Advocacy: Contributing to national debates about mental health in international development
Some of the key Butabika-East London Link projects to date have included:
Psychiatric Clinical Officer Psychological Training and Projects
A three-year project, to train Psychiatric Clinical Officers (PCO) in psychological, project and supervision skills, implemented in partnership with Ugandan health leaders and the National PCO Association. 162 PCOs attended workshops; six of these PCOs completed two-week exchange visits to the UK for further learning.
Seeding money was also provided for small-scale PCO-designed projects which addressed a variety of issues, for example:
•Reducing alcohol use among prison officers
•Increasing adherence to antiepileptic medication
•Collaborating with traditional healers
Heartsounds Uganda User Involvement Project
In 2008, six mental health service user champions from East London traveled to Uganda to share learning with their counterparts about the role of those with personal experiences of mental health problems in transforming mental health care in the UK and Uganda.
A social networking site and Uganda-based community-based organisation Mental Health Champion were both established as a result of this project, to enable further sharing. HeartSounds now leads the development of mental health peer support in Uganda, described further below.
Brain Gain Peer Working Project
This two-year peer working scheme trained ex-patients to provide home visits and ward-based outreach in Kampala, improving the scale and quality of service provision while tackling stigma and discrimination. Additional grant funding has been secured to build on these early successes starting in late 2014.
Uganda Diaspora Groups
A diaspora group were established in 2011 in order to better integrate the expertise of UK-based Ugandan nationals into the activities of the Butablka-East London Link. This has developed into the Uganda Diaspora Health Foundation
Targeted Capacity-Building Projects
Additional capacity-building projects are conducted on key topics, including:
•Child and adolescent mental health