Host institution: Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain

Project title: Improving the mental health of older people in Africa

Dr Akin Ojagbemi is a Lecturer in Old-age and Neuropsychiatry at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and a consultant in Old-age Psychiatry at the University’s teaching hospital. He qualified as a psychiatrist in Nigeria; in the final year of specialist training, he was awarded the New Partnership for Africa’s Development scholarship for a PhD in Neuropsychiatry at Stellenbosch University (South Africa). He received postdoctoral training from Northwestern University (USA) and the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

AREF Fellowship research project:

For the one-year AREF Fellowship, Dr Ojagbemi undertook a developmental programme towards the careful adaptation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed Mental Health Global Action Program-Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG) for use in the identification and treatment of late-life depression. The mhGAP-IG is a generic clinical support tool to aid non-specialists in the provision of evidence-based care for priority mental health conditions, including depression.

He was supported by Professor Oye Gureje (Department of Psychiatry, University of Ibadan) and Professor Jose Luis Ayuso-Mateos (Department of Psychiatry, Autonoma University Madrid). Both sponsors have worked collaboratively for many years as members of the WHO international Advisory Group on Mental and Behavioural Disorders, and this cross-continental partnership was energised and expanded further through AREF.

By the end of the Fellowship, he was able to develop the skills and network required to deliver an independently funded project of strong impact. He also hopes to grow an international reputation as a leader in the development of psychosocial interventions for the mental health of older adults living in Africa.

AREF supported Dr Ojagbemi’s long term goal to help develop and expand access to mental health services for the elderly living in Nigeria and Africa.