SPAR Project

The Canadian Minister for International Development, the Hon. Harjit. S. Sajjan officially announced the SPAR Project on November 15, 2022 during the Guyana Mental Health and Well-Being (GWB), which was organized by the Government of Guyana.

The Safeguarding the Human Dignity & Rights of Populations At-Risk for Ill-Mental Health in Vulnerable Communities across Guyana Project is funded by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF). The Project has a life span of 5 years (January 2022 – March 2026).

The Project aims to enhance the dignity and rights of Guyanese by strengthening the availability and capacity of mental health services at both the community and school levels to address the country’s culture of suicide which has been called a national crisis. This will include advocacy to increase understanding of mental health challenges and reduce stigma.

Working in partnership with local organizations, the Project will employ a community-oriented care approach to mental health and wellbeing that builds on existing social structures and the strengths of community health workers, mental health survivors, multi-faith leaders and communities’ capacities to work together to chart a new path of mental health resilience.

The Project is expected to produce the following results:

Intermediate Outcome 1100: Enhanced gender-responsive education for equitable inclusion and well being among young women and men in schools and communities in Regions 1-6

The main planned activities include:

  • Conducting gender equality, mental health and wellbeing audits
  • Training of youth peer leaders to promote gender equality and inclusion and to cultivate social and mental wellbeing among peers
  • Re-integration of adolescent mothers and additional early school leavers back into the school system
  • Integration of gender-sensitive mental health education and awareness into the curriculum of target schools;
  • Gender-sensitive training delivered to school counselors.

Intermediate Outcome 1200: Strengthened mental health resilience among youth, their families, and vulnerable women and men in all regions 

The main planned activities include:

  • Supporting mental health survivors in communities
  • Training of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in areas including rights-based mental health service, substance abuse and suicide attempt first aid;
  • Training of facility-based health care workers in mental health management prioritie
  • Providing mental health counseling to chronic diseases patients
  • Capacity strengthening of MH programs in health facilities especially those providing, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) and Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
  • Development and implementation of a national advocacy plan promoting support for mental health and medication safety
  • Establishment and support for regional partners for capacity sharing and implementation of MH advocacy and support programs.

Project Activities

School Audits

Gender Equality, Mental Health and Wellbeing are being conducted in select public and private schools. The Audits are intended to determine the extent of gender inequality, and mental health and wellbeing issues that currently exist within these schools.

IDRF is supporting the Ministry of Education and Private Education Service Providers to undertake these audits, in which the findings will be used to craft strategies to improve inequality and mental wellbeing in the education sector.

Let’s Talk Guyana

The Let’s Talk Guyana is a national mental health campaign that aims to combat mental health stigma and discrimination associated with mental health disorders across Guyana.

The campaign provides information on various types of mental-related issues and support mechanisms, and encourages people experiencing ill-mental health to seek support.

Community Care Visits

Through our Community Care Visits, the Project reaches all Guyanese including minority and marginalized groups to access counseling services. These services are adopted to the community-level context and include group and individual counseling approaches.

These sessions are being conducted in collaboration with trained and experienced national and community level partners of the Project.

Training for Health Care Workers

The Project has a tailored curriculum aimed at addressing the mental health management gap at health care facilities and in communities.

These training sessions will increase the involvement of non-specialist providers in delivering mental health and substance use care in Guyana through a combination of pharmacological and psychological interventions, facilitated by local and international specialists.

“I think the most significant change is where I have incorporated the lessons learned in the training into my self-care plan, and shared with my colleagues, the importance of sharing their feelings and finding the best solution.”