Dixon Chibanda & Friendship Bench announced as one of the winners of the $450,000 John P. McNulty Prize

Dixon Chibanda and his Friendship Bench mental health initiative were this week announced as one of the winners of the John P. McNulty Prize. Chibanda was awarded the prize alongside Aimée Eubanks Davis launched Braven which helps individuals in searching for employment, and Mirei Endara de Heras who launched Marea Verde which supports environmental conservation.

The McNulty Foundation and the Aspen Institute today announced the three winners of the 2023 John P. McNulty Prize, each of whom will receive $150,000 towards their organization. Their transformative social ventures address three of the most important issues of this generation, from revolutionizing mental healthcare, to addressing the global plastic crisis, to restoring the promise of economic mobility.

From left - Aimée Eubanks Davis, Dixon Chibanda, Mirei Endara de Heras

These leaders have reimagined major parts of societal infrastructure—whether it’s tapping into the power of lay therapists, pioneering a holistic solution to plastic pollution, or ensuring college fulfills its promise to young people, these three winners are building a society where every generation can fulfill their potential.

Dixon Chibanda started Friendship Bench after witnessing the fatal effects of scarce mental health resources in his community. In Zimbabwe, where he is one of only 19 psychiatrists for over 14 million people (World Health Organization, 2022), not only are mental health issues stigmatized, but those struggling cannot easily access affordable and timely care. 

About Friendship Bench

Friendship Bench addresses this gap by equipping community health workers, more fondly called "grandmothers" or “ambuya utanos,” to provide primary-level care for individuals experiencing depression or anxiety.

This simple yet groundbreaking concept is already scaling beyond Zimbabwe in six countries and counting. Since 2016, over 280,000 people have received treatment through Friendship Bench, with 78% showing improvement. The impact of grandmothers has been proven in over 100 peer-reviewed publications.

For anyone struggling with their mental well-being Friendship Bench provides free in-person or online sessions. You can book an in-person session via their website here or via WhatsApp 'I need to talk...' to +263 784 845 294.

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