Jennifer Belus, postdoctoral researcher at Swiss TPH, was awarded a prestigious Ambizione Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. With her project, Jennifer Belus will focus on improving the mental health of people living with HIV in Lesotho.
The research uses a novel approach to treating mental health in low-resource settings by including loved ones, such as romantic partners or family members, in the treatment alongside the patient. "With our project, we want to find out whether the mental health guidelines put forward by the World Health Organization can have a positive impact on depression or substance use in Lesotho if we address the broader social environment," said Belus. Particular emphasis will be placed on the training of non-specialist health personnel and the development of training and intervention materials that can be widely disseminated, if the intervention is found to be effective.
Together with the Swiss-based NGO Solidarmed and the Lesotho Ministry of Health, Swiss TPH's International HIV and Chronic Disease Care group, headed by Niklaus Labhardt and where Jennifer Belus will hold her Ambizione Fellowship, has long been active in the fight to improve the health and quality of life for people living with HIV in Lesotho. Recently, researchers from this team were able to show that HIV self-testing at home can decisively improve people's awareness of their own HIV status. Jennifer Belus’s Ambizione award allows the research team to continue helping people living with HIV by addressing the unmet mental health needs of this population.