Goma DRC - Mental Health


The Institute of Higher Education in Mental Health has the following objectives:

· To train and to develop qualified and competent human resources in the mental health sector, able to face the challenges of mental health care in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the surrounding countries of the Great Lakes (Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi)

· To reinforce the capacity of people who are working for various organizations in the field of psychosocial care and humanitarian support.


The Institute supports a vision of human equality, irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity and nationality as a basic human right. The education program underlines these principles of human rights with respect for cultural diversity in the Congolese society and the surrounding countries. The courses are accessible for people with different cultural backgrounds and aim to build bridges between people within a particular society as well as relations between societies. The ISSM supports a vision that basic human needs have to be met in order to create peace in mind. Finding hope in life and feeling respected as a human being are seen as basic psychological human needs that will enable a process of reconciliation and peace-building between people and societies.

The ISSM will provide an excellent environment where professionals are trained in theoretical knowledge and practical skills that meet international standards of mental health professionals. The objective is to train professionals who will contribute to the development of a cultural appropriate mental health system. Such a system will include prevention of mental health disorders as well as treatment and care for people with mental health conditions. The education program will have a special focus on recognition and treatment of complex trauma after rape and sexual abuse of women and men. The qualified professionals will be able to provide adequate support and psychosocial assistance to the specific needs of the population.


Mental health nurse: A three years study for mental health nursing will be offered. After three years of study, students can obtain a diploma in psychiatric nursing.

Psychosocial counseling: A three years study for professional psychosocial counselors will be offered and students can obtain a diploma in professional counseling.

Clinical psychology: The period of study in clinical psychology is five years, at the end of which a bachelor degree in clinical psychology will be delivered.

Partners and teaching staff

· The association of psychiatric nurses in France collaborates with the ISSM offering literature and study materials and the development of the curriculum.

· The Ministry of Education in Congo has acknowledged the formation of the ISSM and it has planned an assessment visit to the Institute at the end of 2010.

· A team of lecturers in clinical psychology from the National University Rwanda will teach at ISSM in Goma. A team of Congolese psychologists, educated in foreign countries, give lectures at the three different departments.

Start of the program

The ISSM will start the programs in all three departments at the beginning of the academic year in Congo at the 18th of October 2010. Currently, 40 students have been admitted to start, most of them work for NGOs in Goma and the Kivu region. The NGOs pay the student fees that will be used to finance the most basic needs as the accommodation, study materials and transport costs for teaching staff. The ISSM is not yet able to pay salaries, but depends for the time being on the motivation of Congolese and Rwandese psychologists, who support the initiative of the ISSM. They acknowledge the urgent need for trained professionals in mental health in the Congolese society and therefore they give lecturers without being paid for in order to build together on the first Institute for Higher Education in Mental Health in Goma.


In the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are no institutions that provide training in mental health, professional counseling and clinical psychology. The ISSM will appeal to national and international lecturers in order to provide high quality education. The Institute starts with a very small budget that is needed to finance the basic materials and accommodation in Goma. In order to overcome the constraints of lacking financial and human resources, the ISSM seeks international partners in the field of mental health and psychology who want support the development of the Institute.

The Institute seeks collaboration with international institutes for higher education in mental health, clinical psychology and psychosocial counseling that support the vision of the ISSM. The Institute likes to find national and international partners for financial support that will facilitate the exchange of knowledge. They also like to find partners to develop together methods and strategies aimed at the meeting mental health care needs that fully recognize the importance of the cultural context of the problems in Congo and the Great Lakes region.

The exchange of knowledge and experiences by lecturers and students between countries and institutes is considered as an opportunity for learning from each other. The support of the educational team with qualified international lecturers and the exchange of lecturers and students will help the starting Institute to develop a program of international standard. The collaboration between different partners may contribute to improvement of knowledge, theory development and the development of practices regarding prevention and treatment of mental health problems in (post)conflict countries.


Drs. Henny Slegh

Email: hennyslegh@gmail.com

Tel: +250 785160847


Dr Benoit Ruratotoye, PhD

Email: rutabenoit@yahoo.fr


1. Henny Slegh: Chairman

2. Simon Kanyaruhago: Vice Chairman

3. Dr Benoit Ruratotoye: Rector

4. Augustin Musafiri: Vice Rector Academic

5. Masudi Bungulu: Faculties Representatives

6. Deo Cimere: Administration Staff Representative

7. Jeanne Kavuya Kivuo Students Representative

8. Nyabenda Barron: Member

9. Prof. Annemiek Richters: Member