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The Initiative for Cognitive Therapies and Mental Health (ICMTH)

The Initiative for Cognitive Therapies and Mental Health (ICMTH) is a pioneering non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the landscape of behavioral and mental health care across Africa. Established with a mission to promote, educate, and advocate for accessible mental health services, ICMTH champions Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT) as a vital tool in fostering mental well-being. By emphasizing the recognition of causative triggers, CBT empowers individuals to achieve positive treatment outcomes.

The Critical Importance of ICMTH’s Work in Nigeria and Africa

In Nigeria, and across Africa, socio-cultural and economic norms often leave women and young people, especially girls, vulnerable to lifelong trauma. Domestic and child abuse laws are poorly enforced, and there is a glaring lack of structured support for immediate and long-term counseling for victims. Here, ICMTH steps in, bridging the gap through a multifaceted approach of community outreach, advocacy, and professional education. By training therapists, counselors, social workers, and non-professionals in schools and churches, ICMTH aims to create a network of support for those in need.

A Vision Realized

Incorporated in Nigeria as a non-profit in July 2023, ICMTH is the brainchild of Dr. CH (MAJ) Stephanie Okolo, who serves as its President. In just one year, Stephanie has recruited over 40 members from the United States, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. Collaborating with global and regional CBT organizations, ICMTH is gaining momentum in its mission to revolutionize mental health care in Africa.

A Landmark Event

On June 14, 2024, ICMTH organized its first community event in Nigeria, themed “Promoting Emotional Health and Wellbeing.” Held at a rural middle and high school where students often endure physical and emotional abuse without recourse, the event was a beacon of hope. ICMTH provided free lunch and sanitary care packets to 480 students and teachers. Local resource personnel have since conducted follow-up events, offering further counseling services to individuals with dire needs.

Sustaining the Mission

Funding for these initiatives comes entirely from donations by ICMTH members. Plans are underway to replicate such outreach events in other regions of Nigeria, subject to the availability of funds. ICMTH is also partnering with local NGOs to offer free counseling services to abuse victims. Moreover, a CBT training curriculum is being developed to keep providers and resource persons current with the latest research and developments in Cognitive Behavioral Therapies.

The Journey Ahead

Despite numerous challenges, ICMTH remains steadfast in its calling. Every effort to prevent a suicidal attempt or deviant behavior is a testament to the hard work and dedication of its members. Although not primarily a religious organization, ICMTH’s mission aligns with the religious mandate to provide comfort to those in distress. This is the essence of ICMTH – a commitment to healing and hope.

ICMTH: Transforming lives through cognitive therapies and mental health advocacy in Africa.

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