Mental health impacts the physical, social, and economic health of individuals and societies worldwide. Many people suffering from mental illness live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where access to quality mental healthcare is limited. In fact, more than 75% of people with mental health disorders in LMICs LMICs low- and middle-income countries receive no care at all.17 With more than 60 years of supporting those affected by mental illness, Johnson & Johnson is committed to expanding access to mental healthcare to positively impact people’s lives.
Building on strong progress made to date, our new Health for Humanity 2025 Goals include a specific ambition to improve mental health in Rwanda.
Since 2018, we have been building on our collaboration with the Rwanda Ministry of Health to establish a proof-of-concept for an affordable model of mental healthcare that can be scaled to other sub-Saharan African countries. A core element in this approach is to enable access to essential and innovative medicines for schizophrenia. As part of this continuing program, following a feasibility study with one-month and three-month injectables, we are conducting the first-ever mental health clinical study on the benefits of our long-acting injectable antipsychotic (paliperidone palmitate) for the treatment of schizophrenia in Rwandan healthcare settings. The study, to be completed by 2024, will help build an evidence base for policy-making and healthcare decisions to provide innovative solutions for mental health.
Our work in Rwanda builds on our progress to date in significantly advancing the standard of care for schizophrenia patients, including:
- Registration and supply of oral RISPERDAL for the treatment of schizophrenia, and
- Registration of paliperidone palmitate three-month as the first long-acting injectable in Rwanda.
Focus on community-based mental healthcare: In 2020, we continued to support Partners In Health as they scaled up their comprehensive model of community-based mental healthcare to all targeted health centers and district hospitals in two districts of Rwanda, Kirehe and Kayonza. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the project continued to provide routine mental healthcare and social support to patients at district hospitals and community health centers via online platforms, including developing COVID-19-specific mental health training and psychosocial materials for healthcare professionals and community health workers when in-person training was not possible.
Raising awareness for mental health needs: We continue to be active on many fronts to raise awareness for the prioritization of mental healthcare at the global and national levels. In 2020, in honor of World Mental Health Day, we collaborated with international advocacy organization Global Citizen to raise awareness of the global burden of mental illness.
Ending mental health stigma: We collaborated in a new global coalition, Science Over Stigma (SOS), composed of public, private and non-governmental organizations committed to ending the stigma related to mental health challenges, by bringing together advocacy, social and biologic sciences, and arts and culture to improve collective impact, deepen understanding of the physiologic aspects of mental illness and fuel fresh dialogue about stigma through storytelling and expressive arts.
Partnering to develop transformative treatments: Through our Janssen Neuroscience group, we joined a new cross-sector collaboration to accelerate the development of urgently needed early-stage treatments for patients at risk of developing schizophrenia. The five-year Accelerating Medicines Partnership in Schizophrenia (AMP SCZ) project, continues our longstanding commitment to develop transformational therapies for patients who are living with this devastating disease.
Additional investments in mental health: We invest in improving resilience and providing mental health and psychosocial support for health workers. See the section Strengthening Health Systems, and specifically through 2020, our support during COVID-19 in the section Supporting the Front Lines of Care. Similarly, we provide extensive support for Johnson & Johnson employees around the world, both as part of our ongoing employee programs and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See sections Employee Health, Safety & Wellness and COVID-19: Protecting Employees.