Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Solution name.

Zomujo Mental Health

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Uber for mental health but free. Providing free, personalized, and confidential mental health services through our trained and certified peer counselors who leverage our AI-powered technology platforms (web and apps).

What specific problem are you trying to solve?

This is a national project. With approximately 17 million internet users in Ghana (• Ghana: number of internet users 2017-2022 | Statista), our technology solution can be accessed by these persons. Relative to the WHO benchmark of 1 psychiatrist per 100,000 population, Ghana’s psychiatrist-to-population ratio is 0.058 per 100,000 population and 0.065 psychologists per 100,000 population (WHO Global Health Observatory Data Repository: Human Resources Data by Country. GHO | By category | Human resources - Data by country (who.int)) In Ghana, about 13 % of the adult population is estimated to be affected by mental health disorders of varying forms. (Oppong et al., 2016). More than half of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.   

Research conducted by Addy et al in 2021 to study mental health issues among school-going adolescents in Ghana reported that qualitatively, financial challenges, spiritual influences, intimate relationships, bullying, and domestic violence were the main contributors to mental health disorders. Coping strategies among the participants included isolation, substance use, and spiritual help. The main school-based support system was the guidance and counseling unit, but there were complaints of it being ineffective due to trust and confidentially issues, and the non-engagement of qualified counselors. (Addy et al., 2021)

Currently, the country has only three centers (Accra psychiatric hospital, Pantang hospital, and Ankaful Hospital) to handle advanced mental health issues, and yet not much has been done to nip these issues in the bud before a referral is required. Mental health remains one of the overlooked aspects of health in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa. This may be due to inadequate government attention, scarcity of mental health services, and low level of knowledge of existing services among many others.

Elevator pitch

What is your solution?

Zomujo is a telehealth startup that provides a wide range of medical services, including mental health. The startup's mental health service, called Joponi, is a free, personalized, and anonymous service that aims to address the issue of mental health among students at universities by identifying early signs and providing support. The service is based on a web and app-based platform where clients can log in, fill out a complaint form, and be referred to one of the peer counsellors for assistance. The peer counsellors are individuals of various age brackets trained by board-certified psychologists and psychiatrists and are meant to bridge the gap of limited certified psychologists and psychiatrists in the country. They are trained to offer professional help and are notified within three minutes to attend to clients when a request is made. The service is free, anonymous and secure, and clients can choose an anonymous name during their enrolment. If a client's case is beyond the scope of the peer counsellors, they can refer the client to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. The service is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, and there are no service charges or hidden fees.

Who does your solution serve? In what ways will the solution impact their lives?

This project targets students who are mostly youth studying in universities across the country. Often these youth are at risk of mental health challenges because of academic stress, traumatic events, negative family environment, poverty and lack of proper guidance. Youth-related mental health issues include low self-esteem, perceived incompetence, substance use, community-level/school-level stressful or traumatic events, negative family environment, poverty etc. Addressing mental health problems early in life can lead to decreases in emotional and behavioural problems, functional impairment, and even contact with all forms of law enforcement. It can also lead to improvements in social and behavioural adjustment, learning outcomes, and school performance.

 There will be better and healthy relationships with Family and Friends. When teenagers and youth with mental illness develop uncontrollable behaviours, these effects will affect the patient’s relationships and well-being. Great counsellors will help them feel less alone and deal with their feelings better.

Suicide rates amongst the youth related to deteriorating mental health may see a decrease since early pointers will be identified more promptly and adequate interventions instituted too.

 Several studies show the gender disparity exhibited by mental illness where the proportion of females experiencing mental health issues exceeds that of males. Considering that the university of Ghana for example has a female-to-male ratio of 51:49 with a student population of over 50,000 this mental health initiative stands to benefit a significant number of females. Improved access to mental health will increase productivity in school and the workplace.

Only one research so far has been done in the country to assess the barriers to addressing mental health issues in childbearing women in Ghana, some of the barriers found were heavy workload, fears and lack of health facilities. (Adjorlolo & Aziato, 2020)

Females in tertiary institutions are expected to excel as much as their male colleagues. In universities, almost all females fall into the bracket of women in fertility age (WIFA), the female reproductive span is relatively short and for this reason, some women need to attend school while having children. Such women are faced with the double burden of academia and motherhood and this greatly affects their mental health. A woman should not be deprived of education just because she is pregnant, emotionally drained and does not have access to proper mental healthcare.

 

In some male-dominated courses such as engineering, one may expect a sense of pride among females enrolled in such courses. However, on the contrary, negative comments from an unjust populace may be extremely discouraging and affect the woman’s mental health. The woman stands therefore to greatly benefit from this project.

The young coping with her reproductive cycle and sexuality will receive professional help from trained peer counsellors instead of following negative influences on other social media platforms. 


 

 

 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Considering the scope of the Zomujo project we believe our team, while very youthful, is well equipped in the aspects of finance, health, research, communications and technology that are relevant for the excellent delivery of our services. The team has personal with extensive expertise in healthcare delivery. This team also comprises of personnel that have consulted for financial firms across continents, personnel that have led huge health awareness program, and health data science savvy researchers. 

Our Project Director, Dr. Teata Duut, is a medical doctor and public health practitioner who has been involved in healthcare delivery in various levels in the country. He is responsible for overall project management.

Our Finance Officer, Edwin Edem Abini, is a chartered accountant (ACCA) and a graduate holding a first class honours degree in Mathematics and Finance. He has worked with various firms like Ernst &Young.

Frank Erzoah-Cudjoe, our Research Officer is a data scientist focusing on health. Frank has worked with various mental health institutions like mymdoc, Aya and KaraAgro AI.

Dr. Ohenewaa Adjoa Koranteng, our Communications Manager is a medical doctor who has worked on various medical projects across the country like the MoMic Cervical Cancer Awareness Program.

Emmanuel Duut Esq, our Policy Advocate is a lawyer who has consulted for various local and international health organizations.

Kenneth Topp Yankah is a full-stack software engineer who has worked with various social-impact start-ups.






What steps have you taken to understand the needs of the population you want to serve?

As a medical student, I experienced firsthand how the demanding academic curriculum can take a heavy toll on students. It was disheartening to lose a dear friend to suicide because of the stress of medical school.

We founded Zomujo because we needed mental health support at some point, but had a hard time actually getting it. And paying for it was an even bigger challenge. Add the lingering stigma attached to mental health, and you're left with a lot of people who either don't—or can't—get the support they need. We want to help change that. After a survey involving 500 students, we realised we had to build a solution to that effect. Feedback from our survey participants were useful in helping us refine the product.                                               

Our platform provides free, accessible and culturally-sensitive mental health peer-counselling services to the student population with the click of a button. With a waiting time of less than 5 minutes, a user is connected to a professionally trained peer counsellor to attend to their personal mental health needs. 


Which aspects of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Improving healthcare access and health outcomes; and reducing and ultimately eliminating health disparities (Health)

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community

In what city, town, or region is your solution team located?

Accra, Ghana

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Teata Duut

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Zomujo's Telehealth technology provides mental health services to individuals in remote and underserved areas. The app and toll free service allow for easy access to mental health care regardless of location and physical mobility. 

Additionally our program focuses on training and certification of peer counsellors who are able to provide culturally appropriate and sensitive support to vulnerable populations.The service is also available in several local dialects, bridging the language barrier.

The telehealth industry is a relatively novel one in Ghana and Zomujo is poised as a leader in this industry, particularly in the mental health sphere.There are only 39 psychiatrists and few psychologists serving the entire Ghanaian population which has over 2 million people with mental health issues. People in the Northern part of the country have almost no access to mental health services as the only three major Psychiatry facilities are situated in the Southern part of the country.  

Zomujo provides an immediate, efficient and accessible app which fills this void.  Users  from any location can access professional, safe and free mental health services from a certified peer counsellor. Mental health resources have been provided on the website and the app to provide more information on better ways of handling mental health issues. Users can also rate the service so as to recognise the areas that need improvement. 

What are your impact goals for the next year, and how will you achieve them?

Zomujo currently has 200 peer counselors and we aim to train 1000 peer counselors by next year.  The peer counselors will create a supportive, non-judgmental and safe space for people to talk about their experiences and offer guidance to them. 

This will help our users to cope with stress and also be more productive members of society, attaining their full potential. The World Health Organisation defines health as the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. With Zomujo's free mental health service, we foresee a healthier future for these young people and the nation at large.

Our solution is tailored to the specific needs of the population through our referral system that connects clients to certified psychologists and psychiatrists. 

Our service reduces the need for transportation and other logistical barriers that hinder individuals' access to mental health services. This eases the burden on the already scant institutions and health workers.

We also aim to reduce the stigma attached to seeking mental health care by creating conversations on mental health and undertaking campaigns in various regions of the country, especially the rural areas. 

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our core technology is AI-powered. It makes use of machine learning models to enhance sessions by trained peer counsellors. The data-engineered models help us understand their mental health concerns better in order to provide custom services to users. 

 There's a mobile application where a user fills out a short survey on their current mental health state and needs. They are then immediately connected to a peer counsellor. 

Peer counsellors connect via phones, tablets or laptops to provide counselling services when required.

We use a cloud system which provides audio and video communication for users, leaving them with whatever option they feel most comfortable with. 

For people without an internet connection or a smartphone, we offer toll-free services

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Ghana

How many people does your solution currently serve, and how many do you plan to serve in the next year? If you haven’t yet launched your solution, tell us how many people you plan to serve in the next year.

Zomujo currently serves about 912 people and in the next year we will meaningfully impact up to a 50000 people.

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year?

Some of the barriers include 

Financial: Due to limited funding, we are constrained in hiring staff, marketing, running ads and scaling our services. 

Technical: The AI-powered technology needs to be constantly upgraded and to keep up with the upgrade additional technical expertise will be needed. 

Cultural: There's a generalised stigma attached to mental health issues, especially in rural areas which could be a major hindrance to penetrating that market. 



Your Team

How many people work on your solution team?

4 full time

How long have you been working on your solution?

1 year

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

1. Psych Corps Ghana: assist in training and mentoring of our peer counsellors

2.Ghana Psychology Council: assist in registration and licensing of our trained peer counsellors.

3. Psychiatric Association of Ghana : assist with referrals to their network of psychiatrists for severe cases beyond the management of peer counsellors.

4. Ghana Psychological association: assist with referrals to their network of clinical psychologists

5. Ministry of Health through the Mental Health Authority- assist with promotion of our mental health service and provide available data on mental health issues.

6. Zomujo currently partners with the KGL foundation for financial support.


Business Model

What is your business model?

Our business model is a non-profit organisation. 

We deliver remote healthcare services, reducing the need to travel to a healthcare facility. Our service is especially useful in areas where mental health professionals are scarce and low-income populations.

What is your path to financial sustainability?

In order to sustainably fund and scale up our proposed innovation, a percent of earnings from our parent company (Zomujo limited company), a for-profit telemedicine company dedicated to supporting the mental health foundation. 

We plan on securing grants from international organisations that support mental health initiatives. We shall leverage strategic partnerships with government, private sector and regulatory organisations to help the app to scale. They can provide us with financial, technical and logistical support.

In addition, we shall partner with Universities and research institutions to access funding for research and development to make our services better.  

Solution Team

 
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